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Eric Clapton Dedicates Song to John Wetton, Adds Four US Dates

(Image credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

John Wetton, the celebrated bassist for progressive rock bands King Crimson and Asia, died Tuesday at age 67 after a long battle with colon cancer.

Later that day, Eric Clapton shared a touching tribute to Wetton via his Facebook page.

The tribute came in the form of a brief instrumental track, dubbed "For John W," which Clapton performed on solo acoustic guitar. You can hear the reflective ballad—which appears to be Clapton's off-the-cuff take on "How High the Moon"—below.

"How High the Moon" is a jazz standard by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis that first appeared in the 1940 Broadway revue Two for the Show. You can hear a great version by the Benny Goodman Sextet below. Clapton recorded a similar tribute—a sweet-sounding instrumental ballad—when his former Cream bandmate, bassist Jack Bruce, died in 2014.

In other Slowhand news, the guitar legend has added a few more dates to his limited 2017 run of shows. He and his band will perform at New York City’s Madison Square Garden September 7 and 8, then jet over to LA for two shows at the Forum on September 15 and 16. Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. are on board as special guests.

Clapton's band for the shows will include Walt Richmond, Steve Gadd, Nathan East, Chris Stainton, Sharon White and Michelle John.

In 2015, when Clapton played a set of 70th-birthday shows, he shared this message in his official tour program:

“I swear this is it, no more…..I know I’ve been threatening retirement for the last 50 years, but I didn’t think I’d ever really want to stop. I love what I do and always have done, but over the last few decades I’ve found what I was always really looking for, a loving family who love me just the way I am, which means I can relax and rest when I need to, and more and more I treasure the beauty of that….”

The note went on to say, “Hopefully, I might be able to remember and breathe some life into this old stuff…. in truth believe me, with these great guys to play with, I’ll be having the time of my life!”

Luckily, he's decided to carry on—at least in a limited capacity.

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Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.