Exploring Eric Clapton's Collaborations with The Beatles, Part 2

(Image credit: Peter Still/Getty Images)

Sometime in early 1968, when the Beatles' George Harrison invited Cream's Eric Clapton to play guitar on a tune—a psychedelic instrumental rocker that would wind up on Harrison's Wonderwall Music album—a great classic-rock tradition was born.

For the next five decades—or at least through 2013—Clapton and his guitar would wind up in recording studios with the Beatles. And, of course, by "the Beatles," we mean the actual band and/or any of its four members.

As we've noted before, Clapton is the only guitarist—ever—to play on a Beatles song and on official studio recordings by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Last year, we spotlighted 11 studio tracks recorded between 1968 and 1970 that pair Clapton with at least one Beatle—and occasionally three or more Beatles ("Sour Milk Sea" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"). That was, in fact, the golden era of Clapton/Beatles collaborations.

Today, we're picking up where we left off—covering the rest of the Seventies, heading into the Eighties (skipping the Nineties) and entering the 21st century.

Note that this is not a guide to every recorded Clapton-Beatle collaboration during this period, just 13 highlights. Be sure to check out whereseric.com for a list of Clapton's session work. Also note that this story doesn't include live performances, such as the Prince's Trust Rock Gala in 1987, the Concert for George in 2002 and so on. Enjoy!

P.S.: Before you get started, you might want to revisit our 1968-to-1970 list. Or not.

THIS BE CALLED A SONG | Ringo Starr | 1976
Eric and Ringo

Ringo's 1976 solo album, Ringo's Rotogravure, is a fun, laid-back, star-studded affair. The disc features appearances by John Lennon (who contributed a song), Paul and Linda McCartney (who also contributed a song), Peter Frampton, Harry Nilsson, Melissa Manchester, pedal steel guitar master Sneaky Pete Kleinow and—you guessed it—Eric Clapton. In fact, Clapton even wrote a song for Ringo, and you can hear it below.

As expected for the time, Clapton is employing his classic mid-Seventies straight-into-the-amp Strat tone. P.S.: Ringo's Rotogravure also features a Harrison composition, but Harrison doesn't appear on the song or the album.

LOVE COMES TO EVERYONE | George Harrison | 1979
Eric and

Clapton plays guitar on the intro to this catchy Harrison album track. Clapton would eventually record his own version of this song on his 2005 album, Back Home.For more about that, head here.

EVERYBODY'S IN A HURRY BUT ME | Ringo Starr | 1983
Eric and

It's a shame this song isn't available on YouTube (trust me, it's not available on YouTube), because it's actually kind of interesting—at least in terms of its personnel. Besides Starr on drums and Clapton and Joe Walsh on guitars, this almost-instrumental tune features the Who's John Entwistle on bass. Imagine how "important" this song would've been if it were recorded in 1968; it would've combined members the Beatles, Cream and the Who (and Joe Walsh!)—all on one weird recording.

FREEDOM | Billy Connolly | 1985
Eric, George and Ringo

Speaking of weird, here's a scene from an obscure 1985 film called Water. The story is set in the fictional Caribbean island and British colony of Cascara. Widely ignored by the British Government, media and general public, local Governor Baxter Thwaites is having an easy life in his small and peaceful... blah, blah, blah—who cares?

The film is semi-interesting because of only one scene—the moment when Scottish comedian Billy Connolly fronts a band that features Starr on drums and Harrison and Clapton on guitars. Truth be told, we don't know if Starr and Harrison actually appear on the recording—and online details are so sketchy that we might not be finding out any time soon. Hey, if we ever run into Starr, Clapton or Connolly (which happens all the time), we'll be sure to ask.

CLOUD 9 | George Harrison | 1987
Eric and George

Much to the delight of his patient and devoted fans, Harrison released one of his best albums—Cloud Nine—in late 1987; seriously, it's right up there with 1970's All Things Must Pass. Interestingly enough, both albums feature some wonderful guitar work by Clapton (not to mention fine drumming by Starr).

Although Clapton can be heard on four stellar Cloud Nine tracks, we'll offer up this one—the title track—which features guitar solos by Clapton and Harrison, who, of course, plays slide. In case anyone out there (beisdes me) is concerned about grammar and style, the song title uses a "9" while the album title uses a "Nine." Go figure.

DEVIL'S RADIO | George Harrison | 1987
Eric, George and Ringo

Here's another Cloud Nine track with great guitar work by Clapton; it's "Devil's Radio," Harrison's rocking diatribe (in the key of E) against gossip. Also, while we're not quite sure if Starr is playing drums on "Cloud 9," there's no question he's behind the kit on this one.

OH LORD, WHY LORD | Jim Capaldi | 1988
Eric and George

I bet you weren't expecting this one! Yes, both Clapton and Harrison play guitar on this obscure Jim Capaldi tune from the late Eighties. It's stuff like this that made the late Eighties the "second golden era" of Clapton/Beatles collaborations ... although we admit the first golden era was a lot more interesting.

RUN SO FAR and THAT KIND OF WOMAN | Eric Clapton | 1989
Eric and George

Clapton recorded these two Harrison compostions for his hit 1989 album, Journeyman. However, Only "Run So Far" made the final cut. "That Kind of Woman" would eventually see the light of day when it was released on Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal in 1990. You can check out both songs below.

Gary Moore recorded his own version of "That Kind of Woman" right around the same time (and Moore's version also features Harrison on guitar). Harrison recorded his own version of "Run So Far" for his final album, 2002's posthumously released Brainwashed.

FREEDOM | Paul McCartney | 2001
Eric and Paul

In the wake of the 9-11 attacks, McCartney quickly wrote and recorded this fairly simple song; he even halted production of his late-2001 album, Driving Rain, so that "Freedom" could be tacked on as a (hidden) bonus track. And yes, that's Clapton on guitar.

NEVER WITHOUT YOU | Ringo Starr | 2003
Eric and Ringo

This song, a rare bright spot from Ringo's way-too-long Mark Hudson era (Hudson was Ringo's producer), is Ringo's tribute to Harrison, who had died of cancer only two years earlier. It features some great Clapton riffs, from the solo through the end of the song. That dude playing the Strat and miming the solo in the video is not Clapton, by the way. You might want to close your eyes during the solo to avoid distraction.

MY VALENTINE | Paul McCartney | 2012
Eric and Paul

The music video features Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp. The recording features a nice nylon-string solo by Clapton. This song is still featured in McCartney's live sets; I actually saw him perform it last week in Newark.

ALL OF ME | Eric Clapton | 2013
Eric and Paul

This Clapton recording—a harmless Old Sock album track—features McCartney on backing vocals and standup bass. It's the same bass once owned by Bill Black, the bassist in Elvis Presley's early trio. So there you have it.

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.