Joe Bonamassa Says Eric Clapton Had Something To Prove To The Yardbirds With ‘The Beano Album’
In an interview on The Jay Jay French Connection: Beyond the Music podcast, blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa talked about Eric Clapton’s recording process of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers’ ‘The Beano Album’ and Clapton’s motivation and essential part of the success.
Blues-based psychedelic rock band The Yardbirds was the beginning of three legendary guitarists Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck’s musical careers who are on top 5 of Rolling Stones magazine’s list of 100 greatest guitarists. The band was famous for its hit songs in the mid 1960s such as ‘For Your Love,’ ‘Heart Full of Soul,’ ‘Shape of Things.’
Even though the band had great success with ‘For Your Love’ hitting on the top of many charts, Eric Clapton disapproved of this commercial change in the band from blues roots to pop-rock and left the band on March 25, 1965, the day the single was released.
Then, Clapton joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and he only played in one album entitled ‘The Beano Album.’ The band had a great influence on different rock and blues musicians.
As one of them, Bonamassa shared his admiration Clapton’s talent and his favorite records that inspired him the most during the podcast. He also stated that Clapton wanted to prove himself to his previous band when he joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. This motivated him to play better and better creating his unique style which made him a legendary guitarist of blues.
Here’s what he said:
“Eric had something to prove, and I think he had something to prove to The Yardbirds. Never underestimate spite as a good motivator. The only time that I heard him play with that ferocity was on 1994’s ‘From the Cradle’ record. He did ‘Groaning the Blues’ and you go, OK, it’s inside him.
It’s like a bolt of lightning. I am the biggest Clapton fan, and I’ll take him with a Strat, I’ll take him with the 335, it doesn’t matter. I just think his musicianship and his way of weaving in and out of the blues is, to me, the high watermark of any artist that’s in this genre.
And the thing about ‘The Blues Breakers’ record, if you think about it, they roll in, you have [producer] Mike Vernon, you have a bunch of English engineers going, ‘Why are you playing this loud?
Eric likes his amp in the corner, he doesn’t like direct mic, which is part of the sound – it’s not the direct mic, it’s in the room. It was like this new way of doing things- because they were cocky kids from London, and I liked that.”
He went on:
“And I tried to, when I produce records or when I make records – I don’t produce my own records, I produce other people’s records, Kevin Shirley produces my records – I like that balance. But I always try to not make the engineer slightly uncomfortable, I just go, ‘Put a mic on it, why are we overthinking this?’
There’s the Steely Dan approach, where everything is just perfect, and then there’s The Bluesbreakers approach, where you hear cymbal stands, you hear imperfections in the music, which make it special.
It tells you that guys, human beings, are in the room playing, and it’s that wonderful symbiotic relationship you have with your favorite artist and your favorite records that makes you want to hear it time and time again.”
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