Sunday, January 11, 2009


According to Rolling Stone's web site, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck are going to play some shows together in Japan - not co-headlining, but sharing the stage, as Clapton did with Steve Winwood last year.

It's surprising that Clapton, who used to be against too much looking backward, is doing these shows. But he's been looking back quite a bit in the past few years. In 2003, he joined John Mayall on stage at Mayall's 75th birthday concert - it was the first time they'd performed together since Clapton left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers four decades earlier. In 2005, Clapton reunited with Cream for dates in England and New York. While he couldn't reunite with Derek & The Dominoes (bassist Carl Radle and guitarist Duane Allman have passed away, and drummer Jim Gordon is serving a life in prision term), he recently did a Derek-centric tour featuring Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks in his band. And he sort of resurrected Blind Faith last year for the shows with Steve Winwood.

Eric and Jeff were never bandmates - Jeff actually replaced Clapton in The Yardbirds, a band that Clapton doesn't discuss much (he didn't even show up to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). Still, they have played together over the years, notably at The Secret Policeman's Other Ball in 1981. It will be interesting to see what material they'll play.

Jeff has a history of disappointing fans expecting collaborations: in 1989, he returned to the road after a long break, and co-headlined with Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: each band was supposed to do its own set, and then they'd play together. They ended up just doing one song together - "Goin' Down" - every night. About a decade later, he co-headlined with Santana - Carlos Santana called him out from the stage every night, but still Jeff didn't jam with him. I got to interview Jeff Beck once, and asked him about this stuff. He just said, "I'm lazy, I don't like rehearsing too much, I don't know" and laughed. But hopefully these shows with Clapton will happen. I think it's been established by now that Clapton really needs to have someone on stage with him who can kick his ass, or he gets all snoozy.

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