latest compilation pays homage to the great Eric Clapton. I sat down with Steve to find out his thought process behind the arrangement and his deep admiration for one of the greatest guitarists of our time, Eric Clapton.
Clapton the Innovator
“it (blues) took all the pain away” -Clapton
Whenever you hear or listen to a great guitarist talk about their journey, it always seems to boil down to “Slowhand” Clapton and King. Clapton was an innovator, a visionary. His love of the blues came from a very early age. In the documentary “Life in 12 bars” he states the Blues seemed to heal him “it took all the pain away”, referring to the shocking discovery of his parental roots. He goes on to say that there was something about the blues that “stirred him. Without even being aware of it” he was obsessed with the blues staying up to 3am on school nights, replicating the sounds of Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters.
I asked Steve what made Clapton so unique – “ It was a new sound and unique movement, with all these new licks – there was this energy”. Clapton was brilliant at blending genres, much like the Tarantino of the film world; being able to take what they were doing in the 50’s and create a whole new genre was huge.
The classical guitar has been the cornerstone of Steve’s guitar journey, his mastery of the acoustic allows creativity to flow, sculpting scales and moulding them into an original creative piece. Steve explains that one of the core fundamentals to achieving this, is the technique of contrasting “what you do first has to be contrasted into what comes next, a juxtaposition”.
When asked about designing the Clapton arrangement and the choice of songs Steve recalls that the songs he chose all have “big stories” behind them.
One such story comes from Layla, when Clapton discovered the drummer of Derek and the Dominoes secretly recording his own material, Clapton overheard the piano piece and fell in love with it, the rest is history.
But there is a deeper spiritual philosophy to Steve and creating these arrangements are a humble tribute to the great artists of our pasts; like any great book he has read
“he never wants it to end, to keep their spirit alive”.
For me and many of you reading, this is like a song that sends chills down your spine, one that time stamps a piece of history in your life or evokes an emotional response, it changes us within and enriches our soul.
Learn the classical repertoire!
For a student, learning the classical repertoire is key and learning from the ground up with graded lessons builds a solid foundation to build on, adding layer after layer.
But Steve says, “you need to play a lot”, practice practice and then practice some more and this will grow your toolbox. Recalling a night when he was chatting with good friend Phil Emmanuel, Phil still remembers Tommy playing 16-hour days, every day, just mastering the craft.
But isn’t this what separates the good from the great, in any field – dedication, commitment and passion.
What are you waiting for…?