Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 84

BLUES BREAKERS:
JOHN MAYALL WITH
ERIC CLAPTON
Mayall's original plan was to record a live
album to introduce his new band (which
contained Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce),
and shine the spotlight on EC's solos. When
the tapes were deemed substandard, the

Peter Green with "Greeny" in
the Bluesbreakers, 1967

band re-grouped without Bruce to cut
studio versions of the supercharged blues
covers and originals they performed live.
Beano was recorded in March and April
of 1966, released that July, and reached
#6 in the U.K. - the first English album
to chart without a hit single to pave the
way. Highlights included Freddie King's
"Hideaway" and Memphis Slim's "Steppin'
Out" - instrumentals that showcased EC's
improvisations - along with Otis Rush's
"All Your Love," and Mayall's "Have You
Heard," which is a spellbinding slow blues
with a landmark guitar solo. Clapton's
famed "woman tone" - the Les Paul's neck
pickup with Tone knob rolled all the way
down - is first heard in "Double Crossing
Time," and his vocal debut arrives on Robert
Johnson's "Ramblin' On My Mind." It was
during this time that graffiti across London
proclaimed "Clapton is God."
"I would not be a guitar player if it
wasn't for Eric Clapton," said Bonamassa,

VINTAGE GUITAR

84

September 2018

reiterating a familiar sentiment.
"The rough-andreadiness of his
playing in the
'60s perfectly balanced taste, fire,
a nd restra int.
He's my all-time
favorite singer,
songwriter, and
guitarist."
Almost immediately after the
release of Blues
Breakers, Clapton left Mayall to
form Cream with
Jack Bruce and
drummer Ginger
Baker. His Beano
'Burst was stolen at a rehearsal
later that year.
But habits die
hard - he was
photog r aphe d
on s t a g e w i t h
Keith Richards'
'Burst, still sporting the Bigsby,
prior to acquiring
his psychedelicpainted "Fool"
SG in '67 (VG,
December '11).

A HARD ROAD
After Clapton's departure, Peter Green
joined the Bluesbreakers in July of '66.
A Hard Road was recorded that October
and November, released in February '67,
and reached #10 in England. Originally
disparaged as a Clapton copyist, "Greeny"
proved the critics wrong and rapidly forged
a name for himself. He was a unique blues
stylist with atypical tone emphasized by his
reversed-pole/flipped-pickup sound.
Following EC's lead, Green revitalized
a Freddie King instrumental with "The
Stumble" (a reply to Blues Breakers' "Hideaway") and revealed his soulful slow-blues
chops on "Someday After a While."
A Hard Road revealed changes in the
repertoire; included were Elmore James'
"Dust My Blues" (with Mayall on slide
guitar) and Willie Cobbs' "You Don't Love
Me" (sung by Green), but the album also
sported seven Mayall originals and two
Green-penned pieces. Green's instrumental,
"The Super-Natural," was a tour de force
of feedback and 'Burst-driven sustain with

Peter Green 1967: John Slade.

Clapton defined the
way a guitar would
sound, and what
it could do in that
context. His pairing of a Les Paul
Standard (with stock
PAF pickups) with a
Marshall amp led to
quintessential hardrock tone, as guitarists everywhere
applied Clapton's
sonic recipe; Beck
retired his Esquire
in '66 and Page set
aside his Tele by early
'69. In America, Mike
Bloomfield had a
similar reaction to
the Beano sound.
It's easy to trace
a lineage from the
Beano session to
blues, hard rock,
heavy metal, fusion,
pop, R&B, punk,
funk, and even country-rock; inspired
by a Freddie King
album cover, Clapton
originally sought a
'50s goldtop with
P-90 pickups, but
fate intervened and
he wound up with a 'Burst.
The virtues of Les Paul guitars, all but
forgotten by the mid '60s, were reassessed
by the Bluesbreakers and their descendants.
An abbreviated list of players brandishing
one through the decades includes George
Harrison, Paul Kossoff, Carlos Santana,
Neil Young, Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons,
Joe Perry, Gary Moore, Ace Frehley, Ronnie
Montrose, John McLaughlin, Dickey Betts,
Al Di Meola, Robert Fripp, Gary Rossington,
Bob Marley, Joe Walsh, Buck Dharma, Charlie Daniels, Mick Ronson, Tom Scholz, Neal
Schon, Michael Schenker, Peter Frampton,
Steve Lukather, Randy Rhoads, Slash, and
Joe Bonamassa. Even Pat Martino, George
Benson, and Jimi Hendrix had their dances
with a Les Paul.


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