Eric Clapton: "I've Never Heard Better Rock Guitar Playing"
"I remember hearing 'Hey Jude' by Wilson Pickett and calling either Ahmet Ertegun or Tom Dowd and saying, 'Who's that guitar player?'" says Eric Clapton in the top video below.
It turns out that guitar player was a 22-year-old guitarist named Duane Allman, aka "Skydog."
"I just filed it away," Clapton adds. "To this day, I've never heard better rock guitar playing on an R&B record. It's the best."
In November 1968, Wilson Pickett showed up at Rick Hall's Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, hoping to record, but with no material or ideas. Allman, who was working for Hall (as one of several lead guitarists), suggested they record a version of a then-hot single by the Beatles, "Hey Jude."
Hall and Pickett thought it was an insane idea; after all, the Beatles' version of the song was literally climbing the charts as they spoke. Somehow, however, Allman convinced the duo (Perhaps he mentioned the fact that the composition was already a proven hit), and you can hear the complete track in the bottom video (and most of it in the top video).
The result? A sublime vintage R&B recording by one of the masters—and one of Clapton's all-time favorite guitar solos.
Of course, after a year-plus of success with the Allman Brothers Band, Allman found himself in the same studio as Clapton, recording yet another classic set of tracks, 1970's Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Head here to read our ode to Clapton and Allman's epic solo on "Layla,"
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City instrumental surf-rock band Mister Neutron, also composes and records film soundtracks. He writes GuitarWorld.com's The Next Bend column, which is dedicated to B-bender guitars and guitarists. His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy's Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.