News National On This Day: Revered rock and blues guitarist Eric Clapton was born

On This Day: Revered rock and blues guitarist Eric Clapton was born

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton performs at this year's Music for the Marsden concert in London. Photo: Getty
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On this day in 1945, one of the world’s most influential guitarists was born.

Eric Clapton turns 75 today.

Known for co-writing popular songs Tears in Heaven, Cocaine and Layla, the English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter is the only musician to be inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times – once as a solo artist and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and of Cream.

The Yardbirds Eric Clapton
The Yardbirds circa 1965, featuring manager Giorgio Gomelsky, Paul Samwell-Smith, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, Eric Clapton and Keith Relf. Photo: Getty

More than 50 years into his career, enormous crowds still flock to concerts around the world to hear Clapton’s dazzling guitar solos.

But his illustrious career has also been marred with great sadness and loss.

Clapton performs at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island in June 1974. Photo: Getty

On the day of his birth in Surrey, in the final year of World War II, no one could have predicted Clapton would live a life of stardom.

He was the son of 16-year-old Patricia Clapton and a 24-year-old Canadian soldier stationed in England.

His father was shipped off to war before Clapton’s birth and returned to his wife in Canada – never meeting his son.

Abandoned and left to fend for herself as a single teenage mother, it was incredibly difficult for Patricia to raise Clapton on her own so her parents stepped up as surrogate parents.

Eric Clapton
Clapton at 19 years old. Photo: Getty

Clapton grew up thinking his mother was his sister, and that his grandparents were his parents, until the truth was revealed to him at nine years old.

He became moody and distant, stopped putting in effort at school and failed his final exams.

Two years later, he entered an art school.

Many of his most popular songs have a tragic meaning behind them.

The hit song Layla was inspired by the classic poet of Persian literature, Nizami Ganjavi’s The Story of Layla and Majnun, a book that moved Clapton deeply about a young man who fell in love with an unavailable woman and went crazy because he could not marry her.

The 1991 song Tears in Heaven was written as a memorial to Clapton’s four-year-old son Conor who fell 50 storeys to his death from a New York City apartment building.

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