What’s The Truth Behind Eric Clapton’s Nickname ‘Slowhand’

Eric Clapton is most probably one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He has made great contributions to the rock world with both his solo career and work with other bands. There is a long list of bands that Eric Clapton worked with during his career.

Back in 1963, Clapton joined the Yardbirds to replace their original guitarist Top Topham. However, he left the band in 1965 as he was dissatisfied with their pop-rock sound. From then on, Clapton played with various bands until he decided to pursue a solo career in 1970.

Millions of people consider Eric Clapton one of the most talented guitarists in rock history, and there is even a popular graffiti that reads ‘Clapton is God.’ In 1967, that slogan was spray-painted by an unknown admirer, and it became famous. In addition to being called ‘the God,’ Clapton is also called ‘Slowhand,’ and the reason why is pretty entertaining.

Eric Clapton Is Nicknamed Slowhand Due To His Performance During Concerts

Between 1963 and 1965, Eric Clapton was the Yardbirds’ guitarist. According to the band’s rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, Clapton would sometimes break a guitar string during a live performance and stay on stage to replace it. The audience would wait for Clapton, and while waiting, they would start a slow handclap. This act is actually named ‘to be given the slowhand’ in British slang.

After this became a tradition, as it happened frequently, Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky nicknamed Clapton ‘Slowhand.’ According to Whereseric, the Eric Clapton Fanclub, Clapton told Ray Coleman that Gomelsky coined it as a play on words.

As reported by Whereseric, Clapton told Ray Coleman that:

“My nickname of ‘Slowhand’ came from Giorgio Gomelsky. He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into ‘Slowhand’ as a play on words.”

Eric Clapton also talked about the roots of his nickname in his autobiography ‘Clapton – The Autobiography,’ saying that:

“On my guitar, I used light-gauge guitar strings, with a very thin first string, which made it easier to bend the notes, and it was not uncommon during the most frenetic bits of playing for me to break at least one string.

During the pause, while I was changing my string, the frenzied audience would often break into a slow handclap, inspiring Giorgio to dream up the nickname of ‘Slowhand’ Clapton.”

The musician embraced this nickname so much that he also released an album titled ‘Slowhand’ back on November 25, 1977. Apparently, he came up with the title after being called ‘Slowhand’ quite frequently.