Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers & Almost All Of Layla

allman brothers beacon eric clapton
Playing Key to the Highway. So good.

The Allman Brothers & Eric Clapton

Beacon Theater 2009

Man, the Allman Brothers were great. I’m sorry that I didn’t realize how great they were, before they disbanded. I never saw them live to my shame. Well, if you know the Allmans at all you probably remember that they would have week long residencies at New York’s Beacon theater. During 2009 they were joined by Eric Clapton.

Clapton has been a fan of the Allmans since day one. Duane was in Derek and Dominoes, and the deluxe version that album has a long jam with the Allmans back in 1970. Amazing. The Allmans (to me) are everything the Grateful Dead are said to be.  That’s not a war cry, just an opinion.  I’ve written of my love of them before.

This show is incredible. I am in awe at the level of interplay, and musical genius, are at work here. Clapton fits in perfectly but in no way overshadows. It’s both a testament to the quality of the Allmans, as much as Eric’s. It makes me sad that he (Clapton) never again went for a real tight but loose jam band, after the Dominoes. I get it. Cream was a nightmare of drama and fighting, Blind Faith was also rife with drama (cough… Ginger Baker… cough), and then the Dominoes faded away into heroin addiction, and alcoholism.

On With The Show

SET LIST: 01. Introduction 02. Key To The Highway 03. Dreams 04. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad 05. Little Wing 06. Anyday 07. Layla 08. Ending

As you see there is a decent chunk of the Layla album represented, both (I think), as a celebration and a homage, to Duane Allman, and all that could have been. The beauty of the set is 100% in the Layla vibe, while completely being Derek Trucks’ and Warren Haynes’ 21st Century creation. The old were great in the way that they were back in 1970. There’s no redefining or modernizing.

The rhythm section with two drummers, and a percussionist, is truly key to this performance, and the Allman Brothers Band, as a whole. Jaimoe and Butch Trucks (RIP) deepen the groove, while making the drums sound like one drummer with four arms. I love them. Oteil Burbridge plays bass so deep in the pocket that you don’t notice that he’s the mortar holding all this together.

I LOVE THIS SHOW. Watch it. Listen to it. Keep listening. It’s astonishing good. My word good not good as newspaper word good, so if you’d like a professional review of this set, here’s the original New York Times write up. Enjoy. I hope you like it.

The Heart of Markness Podcast: Episode 2 – The ARMS Tour: Clapton, Beck, & Page

Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck

arms tour jimmy page jeff beck eric clapton
Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. ARMS Tour USA 1983

Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones… Jesus Christ, everybody

Links from the show


This is San Francisco 12/2/83. San Fran 12/2/83 is a nice set by Jimmy. He is hit or miss on this tour, often within the same set. Remember, he may not be using heroin anymore, but he was in no way sober. This is the show from which the Goodnight Irene heard in the podcast is taken. You should watch the whole thing. It’s a shit ton of talent on one stage, and no one is being a prick.


WATCH THIS ONE. It’s not Jimmy’s best, but it’s not that bad. This show also has a killer Goodnight Irene at the end, with Jimmy, Jeff, and Eric trading solos and it’s GREAT! Watch it or the monsters will eat you. You also get incoherent Joe Cocker gibberish at the end.

This is the intro to the officially released London gig. Watch it. It shows how sweet Ronnie Lane was, and how all these huge stars really worked together to help hime. It’s nice.
The first part of the London gig. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Drink coffee first.

Find the rest yourself. I’m an old man.

BONUS NOTES AND SHIT FROM THE PODCAST.
Ronnie Lane:

Ronnie Lane was the bass player for the Small Faces (itchycoo park) and later (when they were no longer small) The Faces. The Faces were a good time, drunken rock and roll band that had Rod Stewart as its singer, and Ronnie Wood as their guitarist, both fresh from Jeff Beck’s band. Remember when the Black Crowes first came out, with Jealous Again? They were a clone of the Faces. The Ron Wood went off to become a Rolling Stone, and Rod Stewart went off to be a disco fuckhead. Ronnie Wood ended up living in a trailer on Pete Townshend’s property, having never ‘made it big’. He recorded an album with Pete, in 1977, called Rough Mix that is absolutely wonderful. Not only is a great album, it’s a great album featuring not just Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, but Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, and a bunch more. It’s a great album that was just never promoted by the record company. It also is one of the best sounding analog recordings I’ve ever heard.  Totally listen to it.  Do it.

During the recording of Rough Mix Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His ability to play was hampered, and his already not great life got worse. He must have been a great guy, because holy shit a million huge stars came out to help him.

In 1983

One Of The Best ARMS Gigs in Great Video

The early 1980’s was a dark time for the rock gods of the 70’s. Led Zeppelin had broken up, Jeff Beck was a footnote, and Eric Clapton had turned so mellow he was like the James Taylor of guitar. Everyone had peaked and was hitting 40. The first generation of rock gods were all total has beens by the time they hit 40. This generation risked obscurity as well.

In 1983 a bunch of British rock gods gathered together to perform a series of benefit concerts, in support of Ronnie Lane. Ronnie was the bass player for the Small Faces, and then the Faces. He was a beloved musician and friend (he lived rent free on Pete Townshend’s estate), who had contracted MS and needed some help.

The bands that were represented were the cream of British rock royalty. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood (from the Faces and the Stones) showed up in New York City for some songs, too. Eric Clapton from Cream, Jeff Beck from the Yardbirds and as his own bad self (also former bandmate of Ronnie Wood), Joe Cocker and his awesome keyboard player, Chris Stainton. Holy shit a lot of people. Oh yeah, The Who! Kenny Jones from The Who (and also the Faces with Ronnies Lane and Wood). Fernando Saunders on bass (Lou Reed and Jeff Beck’s bassist)… so many goods. And Paul Rodgers from Free and Bad Company. Lots of folk who all got together to help a friend.

Jimmy Page had been out of the spotlight since the death of John Bonham, and dissolution of Led Zeppelin. He was a physical and mental wreck. Drug addiction was at an almost terminal level, and the deep depression of Bonzo’s death just made everything worse. Aside from a few minor projects, or even just jams, Page was a hermit.

The word on this is that Eric Clapton was tapped to approach Jimmy and tell him to get his shit together, heroin-wise. Clapton had just himself finished rehab, and everyone else in the band(s) pretty much had their shit together (although I think Charlie Watts got in to heroin at roughly this time), except for Jimmy. So, a pep talk, some positive reinforcement, and a trip to the states, got Jimmy off the heroin. Alas he still drank like a fish and did hella blow.

Still, credit where credit is due. The ARMS tour got Jimmy to come back as a performer again. Having worked with Paul Rodgers on the US Tour for ARMS, Jimmy formed the FIRM. The Firm sucked. Yes it did. Yes it did.

 

 

Watch Derek And The Dominos On TV

derek and the dominos
This was an American band.

Eric Clapton’s Fertile Years

The In Between Years

Derek And The Dominos are an anomaly in the career of Eric Clapton. Everyone knows about Layla, and the story behind it (kinda), but few know the album itself. It’s fucking great. You must listen to it fully.

After the breakup of Cream, and then the formation and immediate dissolution of Blind Faith, Eric Clapton was tired of being Eric Clapton. He was not tired of being addicted to heroin yet, though. He was still all thumbs up on that.

Eric Clapton was only 25 in 1970, yet he had already been famous for 7 years. He was the guitarist of the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream for fuck’s sake. Cream. For that alone he would be in the hall of fame, and that was just one charm on the bracelet. And then Blind Faith which also was huge. Holy Shit. It’s a lot. Eric was a little freaked out being God. He toured with his Blind Faith opening act,  Delaney and Bonnie, where he was fairly anonymous. It’s also where he met up with the fellows who would become the Dominos to his Derek.

Around this time (1970) George Harrison (bosom chum of Clapton) had just left the Beatles and was recording All Things Must Pass, his bestest solo album. It also featured all the other Beatles, just not all together (now), along with a bunch of fucks who would end up being the Dominos. Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, Dave Mason (kinda), and Jim Gordon.  American fellows and exceptional musicians. They had swing, they had that southern Lynyrd Skynyrd shimmy. Seriously, listen to the music on Layla. It is pure Southern swamp. Hell, it could be Muscle Shoals.

Take a look at the above performance on the Johnny Cash Show. They’re tight. They sound great, and it has a country groove to it. Derek & The Dominos kicked ass.

So, where were we? Ah yes, Eric Clapton took George Harrison’s band as his own. That’s not all he took. Wink.

The Longing Of Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton had fallen in love with his best friend’s wife. Pattie Boyd Harrison has had more famous songs written about her than anyone else I can think of. Here’s some off the top of my head:

  • Something
  • For You Blue
  • Layla
  • Bell Bottom Blues
  • Wonderful Tonight

There’s an article about 10 songs about her on Mental Floss, but the ones above are the biggies.

Eric Clapton’s Layla era songs are full of longing, regret, defiance, and conflict. The boy is hurting, but he’s in love. Look at the video below and see that even decades later, there’s still emotion he can tap into. Also, look at what a good singer he became.

Ok. This post has taken forever, over days, so I’m just going to birth this half formed, rather than let it languish in eternal almost done.