461 Ocean Boulevard

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461 Ocean Boulevard
Studio album by Eric Clapton
Released July 1974 (1974-07)
Recorded April–May 1974
Studio Criteria Studios (Miami, FL)
Genre Rock · blues rock · reggae
Length 43:21
Label RSO
Producer Tom Dowd
Eric Clapton chronology
Eric Clapton
461 Ocean Boulevard
There's One in Every Crowd
Singles from 461 Ocean Boulevard
  1. "I Shot the Sheriff"
    Released: July 1974
  2. "Willie and the Hand Jive"
    Released: October 1974

461 Ocean Boulevard is the second studio album released by the British rock musician Eric Clapton. The album was released in late July of 1974 for RSO Records, shortly after the record company released the hit single "I Shot the Sheriff" in early July the same year. The album title comes after a rental house, in which Clapton lived while recording the album on 461 Ocean Boulevard in the town of Golden Beach, Florida. The number in the address of the house has since changed due to fans flocking to the property after the album's release. The album topped various international charts and sold more than two million copies. It was also one of the first "pop music" albums to be released in the USSR. The album marked Clapton's return to form after battling with his three-year heroin addiction. In 2004, a remastered two-disc deluxe edition of the album was released, also featuring a live concert recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon and additional studio jam sessions.

Background and recording[edit]

461 Ocean Boulevard marked Clapton's return to form after recovering from his three-year addiction to heroin. Pictured: Clapton on stage in Barcelona, Spain while promoting his new studio album in late 1974.

After overcoming his heroin addiction, Clapton realized that he wasted three years of his life, stating he did not do anything else than watching the television and getting out of shape. When Clapton sought help working on a farm, he then started to listen to a lot of new music and old Blues songs he brought with him and started to play again, even writing whole songs out of simple ideas. With these song ideas in mind, Clapton was given a demo tape by Carl Radle, the former bassist for Derek and the Dominos, with songs performed by Radle with keyboardist Dick Sims and drummer Jamie Oldaker. Clapton liked the recordings, calling them "simply superb". Clapton was given time to write new material for a next album by Radle. When Clapton set to work on tracks for the upcoming studio release, he wanted to leave his songs as incomplete as possible, so that the musicians, who were going to record with Clapton in the studio, would get the chance to make them their own. After the British rock musician appeared in the rock opera Tommy, his manager at the time, Robert Stigwood got into contact with Clapton about a new project. Stigwood arranged for Clapton to recorded at the Criteria Studios in Miamo, Florida with Radle, Sims, Oldacker and record producer Tom Dowd. When it came time to record the new album, Clapton was worried about both the commercial and artistic success of the album, noting his concept of a new album would only work when the chemistry between the musician worked. Clapton also hired guest vocalist Yvonne Elliman and guitarist George Terry as full-time members of his group.[1] Stigwood also paid for Eric to live at a rental house at the address 461 Ocean Boulevard in the town of Golden Beach near Miami.[2] The whole album was recorded from April to May 1974. For the recording sessions, Clapton used his Blackie Fender Stratocaster electric guitar.[1] For slide guitar work, the British rock musician used several Gibson ES-335 guitars. He also played vintage, pre-1970s acoustic guitars, manufactured by Martin.[3]


Excerpt of the album's number one hit single "I Shot the Sheriff".

The blues rock tune "Mainline Florida" was written by George Terry for the album.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

According to AllMusic, the studio album belongs to the musical genres of pop, reggae and rock music in the variety of styles including album rock, hard rock, contemporary pop and rock, adult contemporary music as well as blues rock. The tunes "Motherless Children", "I Can't Hold Out", "Steady Rollin' Man" and "Mainline Florida" are the rock and blues rock songs from the album, where as "Give Me Strength", "Please Be With Me" and "Let It Grow" more of the adult contemporary music songs of the album are. The other tracks on 461 Ocean Boulevard including "Willie and the Hand Jive", "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Get Ready" seem to be more of the reggae tunes.[4] In his 2007 autobiography My Life, Clapton remembers that he was very pleased with the song's lyrics and instrumental parts of "Let It Grow", which he wrote himself. However, music critics and also Clapton noted, that the melody and chord progression is nearly the same as Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". Except for "Let It Grow" and "Get Ready", a song Clapton wrote with guest vocalist Yvonne Elliman about her, the album consists of various cover versions of titles that had been in Clapton's head for a long time: "Willie and the Hand Jive", "Steady Rollin' Man" and "I Can't Hold Out". Clapton first heard the song "Give Me Strength" in London back in the 1960s, when he was living in the city with Charlie and Diana Radcliffe in Fulham Road. He wanted to record the song, because Clapton thought the song would fit to the album's track listing. While the band recorded the album, George Terry brought the album Burnin' from Bob Marley and the Wailers to Clapton, stating he really liked the song "I Shot the Sheriff". He persuaded Clapton to record a version of this tune, which Clapton disliked, because of its "hardcore reggae" melody. Finally, the band convinced Clapton to put the song on the album, noting it would definitely become a hit single. When Clapton met Bob Marley years after his take on the tune was released, Marley told Clapton he really liked the cover.[1]

Two singles were released of 461 Ocean Boulevard. The first, "I Shot the Sheriff" was released by RSO Records in early July 1974, before the album was released.[1] Clapton's take on the Marley tune outplayed the original version, reaching the Top 10 single charts in nine countries, becoming Clapton's only number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[5] In 2003, Clapton's version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[6] The single was also Clapton's first single to sell well internationally, achieving Gold certifications in Japan[7] and in the United States[8] as well as a double Platinum award in Canada.[9] The second track to be released as a single was "Willie and the Hand Jive", which came out in October of 1974.[10] Clapton slowed down the tempo for his version. Author Chris Welch believes that the song benefits from this "slow burn".[11] However, Rolling Stone critic Ken Emerson complains that the song sounds "disconcertingly mournful".[12] Other critics praised Clapton's confident vocals.[13] Author Marc Roberty claimed that on this song, "Clapton's vocals had clearly matured, with fluctuations and intonations that were convincing rather than tentative as in the past".[14] Clapton's version of the song was released as a single in 1974 and reached number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100[5] and position 28 in the Netherlands.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[16]
Christgau's Record Guide A[17]
Creem A–[18]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[19]
MusicHound 3.5/5[20]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[21]
Uncut 4/5 stars[22]

Writing for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls the studio album a "tighter, more focused outing that enables Clapton to stretch out instrumentally" and adds that the "pop concessions on the album [as well as] the sleek production [and] the concise running times don't detract from the rootsy origins of the material". Finishing his review, Erlewine notes, the 461 Ocean Boulevard "set the template for Clapton's 1970s albums". The critic awarded the release four and a half out of five possible stars.[4] For the Blender magazine review of the album's 2004 deluxe edition, Jon Pareles called the Eric Clapton of the Cream-era superior to the Clapton of the 461 Ocean Boulevard-era, because of what Pareles describes as strained singing on 461 Ocean Boulevard. Pareles also described Clapton's remake of "I Shot the Sheriff" as a copy with no original arrangement; he also praised the song "Let It Grow", but criticized it for sounding too much like "Stairway to Heaven".[23] Robert Christgau wrote in a contemporary review for Creem: "As unlikely as it seems, Clapton has taken being laid-back into a new dimension. Perhaps the most brilliant exploration of the metaphorical capacities of country blues ever attempted, way better than Taj Mahal for all of side one. On side two, unfortunately, he goes a little soft. But I'll settle for two questionable live albums if he'll give us a solo record as good as this every three years."[18] In a retrospective review, he wrote:

By opening the first side with 'Motherless Children' and closing it with 'I Shot the Sheriff', Clapton puts the rural repose of his laid-back-with-Leon music into a context of deprivation and conflict, adding bite to soft-spoken professions of need and faith that might otherwise smell faintly of the most rural of laid-back commodities, bullshit. And his honesty has its reward: better sex. The casual assurance you can hear now in his singing goes with the hip-twitching syncopation he brings to Robert Johnson's 'Steady Rolling Man' and Elmore James's 'I Can't Hold Out', and though the covers are what make this record memorable it's on 'Get Ready', written and sung with Yvonne Elliman, that his voice takes on a mellow, seductive intimacy he's never come close to before.[17]

In another retrospective review for Uncut, Nigel Williamson finds, that with 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton "rediscovered the primacy of music in his life".[22] Critic Ryan Book from The Music Times likes the tracklisting very much and thinks that out of this studio album "climate comes out in Clapton's work ten tracks ranging from bright".[24] Eduardo Rivadavia at Ultimate Classic Rock calls the release a "watershed solo LP" and notes the popularity of the album, stating it is a "wanted man". The journalist finished his review, calling the 461 Ocean Boulevard the album, in which Clapton's "incomparable talents and this inspired song set were finally captured".[25] In 1974, journalist Ken Emerson at Rolling Stone called Clapton's guitar work unnotable and criticized Clapton for hiding behind his other musicians, whom Emerson deemed less than capable. Emerson also questioned Clapton's decision to play a dobro on the album, but called "Let It Grow" a highlight. Emerson also considered Clapton's re-arrangement of "Motherless Children" to be too upbeat for a somber song.[12] Despite Emerson's unfavorable 1974 review, Rolling Stone placed the album at #409 on its 2012 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, showing its change of heart when it lauded Clapton's return from heroin addiction "with [this] disc of mellow, springy grooves minus guitar histrionics" as well as Clapton's paying tribute to Robert Johnson and Elmore James.[26]

Track listings[edit]

461 Ocean BoulevardSide 1[27]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Motherless Children"   Traditional (Arrangement by Eric Clapton · Carl Radle) 4:55
2. "Give Me Strength"   Eric Clapton 2:51
3. "Willie and the Hand Jive"   Johnny Otis 3:31
4. "Get Ready"   Eric Clapton · Yvonne Elliman 3:50
5. "I Shot the Sheriff"   Bob Marley 4:30
461 Ocean BoulevardSide 2[27]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I Can't Hold Out"   Elmore James 4:10
2. "Please Be With Me"   Charles Scott Boyer 3:25
3. "Let It Grow"   Eric Clapton 4:47
4. "Steady Rollin' Man"   Robert Johnson 3:14
5. "Mainline Florida"   George Terry 4:05


461 Ocean Boulevard was first released on grammophone record (vinyl) and compact music cassette. In July of 1974, when the album came out the first time. It was released in many countries of North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia as well as New Zealand. RSO Records decided to release the album in territories, where it might chart and sell a lot of copies, it was released in Argentina,[30] Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, in the United Kingdom, in the United States, Uruguay, Yugoslavia and Venezuela. Therefore, it was one of the few so called pop music albums to be legally sold in the USSR. Over the years, the studio album was reissued several times including in 1988, 1996 and 2004 for the reunited Europe, also in compact disc format and via digital music download.[31]


Commercial success[edit]

The album itself is one of Clapton's more commercial successful releases, reaching the Top ten in eight countries. It also peaked at number one in three territories including Canada,[32] the United States[33] and Denmark.[34] 461 Ocean Boulevard also reached the Top five in Yugoslavia,[35] reaching number two and peakng at number three in the United Kingdom.[36] In the Netherlands and Norway, the 1974 studio release placed itself on number four[37] on the national album charts.[38] In Japan, the album reached number eight on the Oricon album chart.[39] In Germany and New Zealand, 461 Ocean Boulevard ranked on places eleven[40] and thirty-eight.[41] On the 1974 year-end charts, the studio album reached number five on the Canadian RPM chart[42] and positioned itself on number fifteen in Norway.[43] In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the album ranked on number twenty-two[44] and twenty-three.[45] On the Yugoslavian albums chart, the album ranked itself on place twenty-five.[35] In both Germany and Japan, the album reached number 51 on the end of the year albums chart compilation.[46] In Australia, the album peaked at number two and reached position eighteen on the year-end chart of 1974.[47] In 1975, the album reached the next year-end chart in Norway peaking at number 71.[48] While on chart in Japan, the album sold more than 97,000 copies. It was later certified with a Gold disc for sales more than 100,000 copies in the country.[7] The album was also certified with other award commemorating outstanding sales figures; for example in Australia, 461 Ocean Boulevard was awarded a double Gold award for sales of more than 70,000 units. In the United States, the release was also certified with a Gold disc for shipment figures of more than 500,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, Clapton was presented with a triple Platinum disc for sales of more than 900,000 copies in the country before 1994 alone and was presented with another Gold sales award for the sale of more than 100,000 copies after 1994. He also got a Platinum presentation by Nielsen SoundScan for sales exceeding one million copies in Great Britain alone.[49] In Canada, Denmark, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macao the release was also certified Gold. In the Netherlands and Norway, 461 Ocean Boulevard was presented with a Platinum award.[34] In total, the album sold more than 2,022,500 copies worldwide.

Chart positions[edit]


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[52] 2× Gold 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[34] Gold 50,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[34] Gold 25,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[34] Gold 10,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[7] Gold 100,000^
Macao (IFPI Macao)[34] Gold 15,000*
Malaysia (RIM)[34] Gold 12,500*
Netherlands (NVPI)[34] Platinum 100,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[34] Platinum 50,000*
Peru (IFPI Peru)[53] Gold 10,000*
Singapore (RIAS)[34] Gold 15,000*
South Korea (RIAK)[34] Gold 50,000x
Taiwan (RIT)[34] Gold 15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] 3× Platinum + Gold 1,000,000^
United States (RIAA)[54] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c d Clapton, Eric (2007). "461 Ocean Boulevard". Clapton: The Autobiography (1st ed.). United States: Broadway Books. ISBN 978-0-385-51851-2. 
  2. ^ Sokol, Brett (December 9, 2004). "Musical Mecca: After 30 years, they still flock to that most fabled of oceanfront homes". Miami New Times. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  3. ^ Roberty, Marc (May 14, 2013). Eric Clapton - Day by Day: The Early Years 1963-1982 (Day-by-Day Series) (1 ed.). Backbeat Books. ISBN 1617130524. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "461 Ocean Boulevard – Eric Clapton | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "461 Ocean Boulevard Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  6. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame – i". Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d Tatsaku, Ren (2011). The Oricon Sales Report (in Japanese). Tokyo: Oricon Style – Recording Industry Association of Japan. 
  8. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ Schmidt, Alan (1993). The Canadian Book of Singles. Montreal. 
  10. ^ "Eric Clapton – Willie And The Hand Jive – austriancharts.at". Ö3 Austria (in German). Steffen Hung – Hung Medien. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  11. ^ Welch, C. (2011). Clapton: The Ultimate Illustrated History. Voyageur Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-7603-4046-2. 
  12. ^ a b Emerson, Ken. "Album Reviews – 461 Ocean Boulevard by Eric Clapton". RollingStone.com. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  13. ^ Schumacher, M. (2003). Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. Citadel Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-8065-2466-5. 
  14. ^ Roberty, M. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Eric Clapton. Omnibus Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-7119-4305-2. 
  15. ^ "Eric Clapton – Willie And The Hand Jive – dutchcharts.nl". Steffen Hung – Hung Medien. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ Kot, Greg (21 February 1993). "It's A Roller-coaster Career From Blues To Pop And Back". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Eric Clapton". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. p. 82. ISBN 0-89919-025-1. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 1974). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  19. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  20. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 238. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  21. ^ Considine, J. D.. "Eric Clapton". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 165. ISBN 0743201698. 
  22. ^ a b Williamson, Nigel (December 1, 2004). "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard – Uncut". uncut.co.uk. Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  23. ^ Pareles, Jon (November 1, 2004). "Review: Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard (Deluxe Edition)". Blender.com. Alpha Media Group. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  24. ^ Book, Ryan (August 17, 2014). "40 Years of '461 Ocean Boulevard': Music Times Looks Back and Ranks Eric Clapton's Classic Record : Genres : Music Times". The Music Times. Music Times. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  25. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (July 27, 2014). "40 Years Ago: Eric Clapton Releases '461 Ocean Boulevard'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Diffuser Network. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  26. ^ "500 Greatest Albums: 461 Ocean Boulevard – Eric Clapton | Rolling Stone Music | Lists". Rollingstone.com. May 31, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  27. ^ a b "Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  28. ^ "461 Ocean Boulevard". Where's Eric! The Eric Clapton Fan Club Magazine. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  29. ^ a b Small, Barry. "461 Ocean Blvd". thebestofwebsite.com. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard – Argentia". Eil.com. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard – Master Release". Discogs. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  32. ^ a b "RPM – Item Display: Top Albums/CDs – Volume 22, No. 2, August 31, 1974" (Php). Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  33. ^ a b "Eric Clapton – Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Clarkson, Thomas (July 1, 2014). "Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard an international success". The Daily Report Devenport (Directupload) 62 (183). Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  35. ^ a b c d "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Džuboks (in Serbian) (Gornji Milanovac: Dečje novine) (3 (second series)): 22. 
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  38. ^ a b "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  39. ^ a b "Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – Eric Clapton". Japanese Charts (in Japanese). Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  40. ^ a b "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  41. ^ a b "Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  42. ^ a b "RPM – Item Display: Top Albums/CDs – Volume 22, No. 19, December, 28 1974" (Php). Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  43. ^ a b "Alben 1974 Norwegen | Album-Charts | Top 40 Auswertung". GfK Entertainment (in German). Chartsurfer.de. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  44. ^ a b "Jaaroverzichten 1974 (Album)". GfK Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Steffen Hung – Hung Medien. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  45. ^ a b "Alben 1974 UK | Album-Charts | Top 75 Auswertung". GfK Entertainment (in German). Chartsurfer.de. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  46. ^ a b "Alben 1974 Deutschland | Album-Charts | Top 100 Auswertung". GfK Entertainment (in German). Chartsurfer.de. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  47. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  Note: This reference gives Australian albums and singles information. It is used for chart peak positions as early materials were released before ARIA regulated the Australian charts itself (1989).
  48. ^ a b "Alben 1975 Norwegen | Album-Charts | Top 40 Auswertung". GfK Entertainment (in German). Chartsurfer.de. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  49. ^ "461 Ocean Boulevard Platinum Sales Award". Nielsen SoundScan. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  50. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – ALBUM 1974" (in Italian). HitParadeItalia. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  51. ^ "461 Ocean Boulevard". Steve Hawtin. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  52. ^ "ARIA Double Gold Sales Award". Equipboard. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  53. ^ "Der britische Gott Eric Clapton bleibt ein globales Phänomen" (in German). Nachrichten.com. Retrieved 2015-07-14. 
  54. ^ "American album certifications – 461 Ocean Boulevard". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
Back Home Again by John Denver
Billboard 200 number-one album
17 August – 13 September 1974
Succeeded by
Fulfillingness' First Finale by Stevie Wonder
RPM Canadian Chart number-one album
31 August – 21 September 1974
Succeeded by
Roses Are Red by Wednesday
Danish Chart number-one album
31 August – 7 September 1974
Succeeded by
Caribou by Elton John