Eric Clapton Talks Hendrix, Cream and Guitars at Home: Premiere

Guitarist sat down to discuss Guitar Center reproductions, but conversation goes deeper

Eric Clapton playing 'Lucy' at home in London.
Courtesy of Guitar Center
February 5, 2013 12:30 PM ET

Eric Clapton doesn't sit for interviews too often, but he invited a camera crew to his London home to talk about guitars and test some out. The interview was for the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Collection, with the guitarist teaming up with Guitar Center to replicate of some of his most famous guitars: "Brownie," the Fender Stratocaster he played throughout the early Seventies, "Lucy," his Gibson Les Paul, and two Martin acoustic guitars to help raise proceeds for the guitarist's Crossroads Centre, an Antigua treatment center. You don't have to be a guitar nut to enjoy these clips.

Custom Shop "Brownie" Tribute Stratocaster

Clapton remembers first being struck by the Strat when he saw Buddy Holly with one, but he became obsessed when he saw Buddy Guy play one live. He started using them regularly after Cream broke up, using Brownie during the early Seventies and playing it on "Layla." The guitar sold at a 1999 auction for $497,000 (the replica will sell for $15,000). "Touring with that in a quartet that was quieter, funky, very strong, all of it hinged on the toughness of this guitar."

Martin Crossroads Guitar

While trying out these Martin guitar reproductions – which will sell for between $6,000 and $50,000 – Clapton talks about the history of the acoustic guitar, reminiscing about how he earned his chops. "When I was 16, I really tried to nail it, and I felt I was making progress at that point," he says. What does he look for in a good acoustic?  "The guitar has to be friendly. It has to give me a little bit of assistance – otherwise I'll put it down."

The Gibson Harrison-Clapton "Lucy" Les Paul

This is a rare video of Clapton using a Gibson – he mainly uses Strats on tour. Here he even turns up the gain a bit for some fuzzed-out noodling. "It became part of my body – it was just part of my existence," he says of the Les Paul, which he played in the Sixties. This is a reproduction of his 1957 Gold Top, which he gave to his friend George Harrison and used during his guest spot on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," before Harrison loaned it back to Clapton in the Seventies. One hundred replicas of these guitars will be released, selling for $15,000 apiece.

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