How Eric Clapton Became Slowhand

Although famously referred to as God by at least one British graffiti artist, Eric Clapton's more often used nickname is Slowhand. Clapton earned the moniker in the early Sixties while playing with the Yardbirds.

Bandmate and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja noted when Clapton would break a string he would remain on stage while he changed it. The tedious process would prompt the audience to begin a slow handclap, a popular response from English spectators during inactive sporting moments. Clapton has claimed Yardbird's manager Giorgio Gomelsky christened him with the name as a humorous pun.

It is erroneously believed that Clapton was given the name Slowhand because of his long, intricate blues leads. Gomelsky actually considered Clapton a fast guitar player, and felt that in relation to the guitarist’s garnered slow handclaps from the audience, the name was a facetious play on words.

In 1977 Eric Clapton released his fifth solo studio album, titled Slowhand. The album contains three of Clapton's most popular hits, "Cocaine," "Wonderful Tonight," and "Lay Down Sally." Slowhand was viewed as a marked return to form for Clapton after his previous album, No Reason to Cry, failed to produce a Top 20 hit.

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Guitar World Staff

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