Eric Clapton celebrates as Layla turns 40

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IT’S HARD to believe, but Layla – with all her timeless beauty and raw emotion – turns 40 this year.

   In August 1970, Derek & The Dominos (alias Eric Clapton, keyboardist/singer Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon) teamed up with legendary producer Tom Dowd in a Miami studio – fortuitously bumping into guitarist Duane Allman in the same building – and created one of the most revered albums in rock history: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs.

   Often regarded as Eric Clapton’s greatest musical achievement, the album broke new ground by blending British rock, electric blues and Southern gospel.

   The double slide-guitar work of Clapton and Allman would go on to define the famous title track as one of the greatest rock guitar anthems, recorded only a few months before Allman died in a motorcycle accident.

   In August, Eric Clapton is celebrating the short-lived band’s classic double-album with the release of several 40th anniversary commemorative editions.

   There is a remastered single-CD edition of the original album, a two-LP remastered vinyl edition, and a two-disc Deluxe Edition featuring original album tracks and previously unreleased material.

   A Super Deluxe Edition includes the original double album in both digital and vinyl formats, along with a remastered CD of Derek and the Dominos: In Concert, pop-up 3D artwork, and an exclusive hardback book of photographs, essays and new interviews.

   Clapton originally wrote ‘Layla’ as a ballad, with lyrics describing his love for Pattie Boyd. But the song became a ‘rocker’ when Duane Allman reportedly helped to compose the song’s signature riff.

   With the band assembled and Tom Dowd producing, ‘Layla’ was recorded in its original form. The recording consisted of six guitar tracks: a rhythm track by Clapton, three tracks of harmonies played by Clapton against the main riff, a track of slide guitar by Allman, and one track with both Allman and Clapton playing duplicate solos.

   Shortly afterward, Clapton returned to the studio and overheard Jim Gordon playing a piano piece he had composed separately. Clapton, impressed by the piece, convinced Gordon to allow it to be used as part of ‘Layla’. It famously became the song’s ‘second movement’ and was recorded roughly a week after the first – with Gordon playing his piano part, Clapton playing acoustic guitar and slide guitar, and Allman playing electric and bottleneck slide guitar.

   After Dowd spliced the two movements together, ‘Layla’ was complete… and a piece of music history was born.

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