The guitarist that Eric Clapton said he admired in the late 60s

Eric Clapton

The life of the guitarist and singer Eric Clapton completely changed many times in the 60s, since he started his career in 1962 and was part of the following years of bands like The Yardbirds, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith. In that same decade he also collaborated with other artists, playing with The Beatles and John Lennon.

During that decade, Rock and Roll music was evolving fast and there were many incredible bands and artists releasing a lot of music every year. It was an explosion of creativity and there was really a sea of incredible guitarists. Over the decades, Clapton talked about many of his peers and named one guitarist that is less-remembered that he admired in the late 60s.

The guitarist that Eric Clapton said he admired in the late 60s

Rock and Roll music was created in the United States but it really became something bigger when the British bands took one step further in the 60s and pushed the boundaries of that kind of music. There were so many great bands in the United Kingdom during those years. So it was really hard to follow all of them and that’s the reason why people keep discovering many amazing groups from that time even decades after.

In an interview with Classic Rock in 2016, Clapton was asked if he saw names like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Mick Green and Mick Taylor as competitors. He said that he didn’t see anybody as competition. But the only person he kind of saw like that was the guitarist Albert Lee, someone he admired.

“Actually, the only person I was really conscious of – and in a way it was because he was really serious – was Albert Lee. Albert was playing with Chris Farlowe. And Albert to me was a very interesting guy. Because he was a devotee – and he still is – of the Everly Brothers, and therefore of rockabilly.”

“Also Jimmy Bright and Speedy West were his heroes, and that’s serious country virtuoso playing. Those guys played with Tennessee Ernie Ford. And yet he was playing in an R&B band with a soul singer.”

He continued:

“So I found all of that really, really interesting and attractive. He just had a great touch. So if there was anyone I was really keen on then it was him.” In the same conversation, Clapton recalled that he didn’t even know about Jeff Beck when he left The Yardbirds and was replaced by him.

Born in Lingen, Herefordshire, England, Albert Lee is only two years older than Clapton. He is known for his fingerstyle and hybrid picking technique. Besides having a solid solo career, the British guitarist and singer collaborated with many famous artists over the decades. One of them was Eric Clapton, from 1978 to 1983, Lee worked with Clapton touring and recording. He was part of two of his studio albums. They are: “Another Ticket” (1981) and “Money and Cigarettes” (1983).

He also played with names like The Crickets, Emmylou Harris and Bill Wyman, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jon Lord, Everly Brothers and Joe Cocker.

His solo debut album called “Hiding” was released in 1979 and has released 16 studio records. The most recent one is “Gypsy Man – A Tribute To Buddy Holly” in 2019.

What was like to work with Clapton according to Albert Lee

In an interview with Premier Guitar in 2020, Albert Lee recalled what it was like to be in Eric Clapton’s band and work with him for those five years. “Oh yeah, he used to go and sit behind his amp there and with a glass of Brandy and a cigarette. (He would say) ‘Go, Albert, go!'”

“He was a lot more fun then – different kind of fun. [Laughs] He was very generous, I got to do quite a bit. And at one point, I was the only background singer. So I was singing harmony with him. Like, the tours before that and after I left, he’d have background singers. But I was singing there for a while,” Albert Lee said.

During the same conversation he revealed that Clapton gave him a Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar. It was the same one Albert had used with Delaney & Bonnie in the late 60s.

Rafael Polcaro: I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG