Clapton Week: How John Mayall Helped Eric Become God

(Gibson) "Blues Breakers: John Mayall with Eric Clapton was the breakthrough album that really brought my playing to people's attention," writes Eric Clapton, in his autobiography. "I'd found my niche, in a band where I could remain in the background yet at the same time develop my skills �." Indeed, with The Bluesbreakers, Clapton truly found his style.

By early 1963, when he was just 17, Clapton had already discovered the work of such blues masters as B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. But he was still trying, in his words, "to find a phraseology that would encompass all these different artists." When he joined The Yardbirds later that year, he was hopeful that he could at last forge something unique within the blues genre.

For a time it appeared The Yardbirds were a perfect fit, but soon the band succumbed to pressures to embrace a more pop-oriented sound. By the time the group recorded their #1 hit, "For Your Love," in December 1964, Clapton was headed toward the exit. "� in those days I was a complete purist," Clapton said, in Clapton! "If it wasn't black music, it was rubbish." more on this story

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