The History of Eric Clapton

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The History of Eric Clapton
EricClapton AlbumCover History of EC.jpg
Compilation album by Eric Clapton
Released March 1972 (1972-03)
Recorded September 1964 – September 1970
Length 77:27
Label Polydor (UK)
Atco (US)
Producer various
Eric Clapton chronology
Eric Clapton
The History of Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton at His Best

The History of Eric Clapton is a compilation double LP, released in 1972 by Polydor Records in the United Kingdom, and Atco Records in the United States. It features Eric Clapton performing in various bands between 1964 and 1970, including The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos.

The compilation is notable for helping both Clapton's career when he was battling a severe heroin addiction and making Clapton's magnum opus, "Layla", famous. It is also notable for being the first compilation in rock music to collect music of a single rock musician that spans time, bands, music styles and record labels.[1]

The album cover picture was taken at George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh while Clapton was playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on a Gibson Byrdland hollow-body guitar.


The two "Tell the Truth" tracks here are different from and were recorded before "Tell the Truth" on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). "Tell the Truth" here is a fast up-beat version of the song and was originally released as a single in July 1970. "Tell the Truth – Jam" is a long and slow instrumental jam from the Layla sessions which had never been released before. The version that appears on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is a combination of these two takes: the frantic pace of the single is slowed down to the laid-back speed of the instrumental.

The U.S. release of this compilation replaced "Tales of Brave Ulysses" with "Tribute to Elmore", a Clapton and Jimmy Page homage to American blues musician Elmore James. "Tribute to Elmore" was one of several jams performed by Clapton, Page and Jeff Beck, which were recorded by Page and released later without consulting Clapton or Beck.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB[2]

In a review at AllMusic, Bruce Eder wrote that the tracks on The History of Eric Clapton "seemed boundless at the time", from the "primitive and straightforward" "I Ain't Got You" to "Layla" at, what was then, the end of his career. What Eder found extraordinary about this 11-song collection is that it, at the time, only covered two years of Clapton's solo career, but "still doesn't make a bad summation of his best work." He added that the "Tell the Truth" jam alone makes The History of Eric Clapton a "priority acquisition," even for Clapton diehards.[1]

Robert Christgau was a little more critical of the album, saying that while it has several "worthwhile oddities" (the "Tell the Truth" single and its studio jam, plus King Curtis' "Teasin'"), he felt that there should have been more from the Yardbirds and the Bluesbreakers.[2]

Reviewing the album in Journal-News in 1972, Michael O'Connor wrote that while many critics belittled the collection, calling it a "rehash" and a "ripoff", he felt that, despite its weaknesses and bad song selection, it is a good introduction to Eric Clapton, and "really isn't that bad a trip".[3] O'Connor praised Clapton's work with Derek and the Dominos on side four, particularly the "Tell the Truth" jam,[3] and concluded that the compilation "wets my appetite for a future album".[4]

Track listing[edit]

UK tracks
Side A
No.TitlePerformer (orig. release/recording date)Length
1."I Ain't Got You" (Calvin Carter)The Yardbirds (September 1964)2:46
2."Hideaway" (Freddie King/Sonny Thompson)John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers (April 1966)3:13
3."Tales of Brave Ulysses" (Eric Clapton/Martin Sharp)Cream (May 1967)2:46
4."I Want to Know" (S. McLeod)Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse (March 1966)2:14
5."Sunshine of Your Love" (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown/Clapton)Cream (May 1967)4:11
6."Crossroads" (Robert Johnson)Cream (March 1968)4:14
Side B
No.TitlePerformer (orig. release)Length
1."Spoonful" (Willie Dixon)Cream (March 1968)16:43
2."Badge" (Clapton/George Harrison)Cream (October 1968)2:45
Side C
No.TitlePerformer (orig. release)Length
1."Sea of Joy" (Steve Winwood)Blind Faith (June 1969)3:19
2."Only You Know and I Know" (Dave Mason)Delaney & Bonnie (December 1969)4:18
3."I Don't Want to Discuss It" (Beth Beatty/Dick Cooper/Ernie Shelby)Delaney & Bonnie (December 1969)5:40
4."Teasin'" (Curtis Ousley)King Curtis (January 1970)2:15
5."Blues Power" (Clapton/Leon Russell)Eric Clapton (January 1970)3:11
Side D
No.TitlePerformer (orig. release)Length
1."Tell the Truth" (Clapton/Bobby Whitlock)Derek and the Dominos (June 1970)3:19
2."Tell the Truth – Jam" (Clapton/Whitlock)Derek and the Dominos (August–September 1970)9:27
3."Layla" (Clapton/Jim Gordon)Derek and the Dominos (August/October 1970)7:06
U.S. tracks

On the U.S. Atco LP SD2-803, track 3, "Tales of Brave Ulysses" is replaced with:

Side A
3."Tribute to Elmore" (Clapton/Jimmy Page)Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page (recorded June 1965, released on Blues Anytime, 1968)3:00


  1. ^ a b c d Ruhlmann, William. "The History of Eric Clapton". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Eric Clapton: History of Eric Clapton". Robert Christgau Consumer Guide. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b O'Connor, Michael (18 August 1972). "Clapton's 'History' is ... well ... Clapton". Journal-News. p. 10. Retrieved 26 October 2017 – via  Free to read
  4. ^ O'Connor, Michael (18 August 1972). "Clapton's 'History' is ... well ... Clapton". Journal-News. p. 11. Retrieved 26 October 2017 – via  Free to read

External links[edit]