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Eric Clapton turns 70 this week, so let’s celebrate this living legend with some random facts from his life, from nicknames to No. 1 hits to one night stands.
1. Clapton was born March 30, 1945 and raised by his maternal grandparents in Surrey, England.
2. According to Chris Dreja of The Yardbirds, Clapton’s nickname “Slowhand” comes from his habit of playing his guitar so hard that the strings would break. While waiting for Clapton to replace the strings, the audience would give him a “slow handclap.”
3. Clapton himself recalled the nickname’s origin differently, though:
My nickname of ‘Slowhand’ came from Giorgio Gomelsky. He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into ‘Slowhand’ as a play on words.
4. “Slowhand” the album was released in 1977. This is the album that contained the some “Wonderful Tonight.”
5. “Wonderful Tonight” was reportedly written about Clapton’s first wife Pattie Boyd (who had been George Harrison’s first wife, prior to Clapton’s). Clapton’s song “Layla” was also written for Boyd, as were Harrison’s “Something” and “I Need You.”
6. Clapton’s only solo song to hit No. 1 on Billboard charts was his 1974 cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.”
7. Clapton’s 1992 hit “Tears in Heaven,” written about the death of his four-year-old son Conor, hit No. 2.
8. Clapton’s first band was the short-lived The Roosters in 1963.
9. In 1986, while still married to Pattie Boyd, Clapton saw two other children born to two different women: his son Conor and a daughter Ruth, who was not publicly acknowledged by Clapton until 1993.
10. He is the only artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. The first was with The Yardbirds in 1992, then as a member of Cream in 1993, and finally as a solo performer in 2000.
11. Clapton played the guitar solo on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
12. Before becoming a musician, he studied stained glass design at Kingston Art School.
13. After leaving the Yardbirds in 1965, Clapton worked briefly in construction before joiningJohn Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
14. In 1988, he became the first musician to have his own Fender Stratocaster signature model.
15. Clapton enjoys mixed martial arts and was the guest of honor at the MMA event Pride Grand Prix 2000 Tournament.
17. Clapton credits overcoming his heroin addiction to a controversial practice of electro-acupuncture.