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Eric Clapton: "I've never heard better rock guitar playing"

(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

"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

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.