The mid-1970s saw Eric Clapton return to the world stage as a solo act after a period of self-imposed isolation. In early 1973, he was still in seclusion at his home and addicted to heroin. In an attempt to get Eric off heroin and back in the public eye, Lord Harlech (the father of Eric’s girlfriend) enlisted Eric’s good friend, Pete Townshend of The Who, to help organize two concerts at London’s Rainbow Theater.
Townshend assembled a group of rock star friends who performed on 23 January 1973 as THE PALPITATIONS. The two shows resulted in a live album, “Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert”. By the end of 1973, Eric had kicked heroin for good. Before resuming his career, he took a small part in the Ken Russell film version of The Who’s “Tommy”.
For his “comeback” album, Eric put together ERIC CLAPTON AND HIS BAND I. This line-up stayed fairly stable through the rest of the 70s. With this band, Clapton recorded “461 Ocean Boulevard”, “There’s One In Every Crowd”, “EC Was Here”, “No Reason To Cry”, “Slowhand”, and “Backless”. They also embarked on extensive world-wide tours. Following the 1979 North American tour, Eric decided it was time for a change. He thought his band had become stale.
For ERIC CLAPTON AND HIS BAND II, Clapton hired only British musicians. After two warm-up shows in England in September, they toured Europe and the Far East during the final months of the year. In December, Clapton's new line-up recorded the live album, “Just One Night” at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall. Gary Brooker was added on keyboards the following year. This lineup recorded the disastrous, “Turn Up Down” in March / April 1980. It remains unreleased although several songs were later re-recorded by Eric for later projects. A second attempt at recording an album was made at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas with Tom Dowd serving as producer. These sessions, during July / August 1980, resulted in Clapton's album, “Another Ticket”. In March 1981, the U.S. Tour to promote the album was canceled due to Eric’s hospitalization for ulcers.
In 1982, Clapton formed his own record label, Duck Records (distributed by Warner Brothers / Reprise Records). Calling his band back together, they all returned to Compass Point Studios in the fall of 1982. When the sessions went nowhere, Clapton fired the entire band except for guitarist Albert Lee. Producer Tom Dowd then put together a band of top-notch session players for Eric. They recorded “Money And Cigarettes”. Chris Stainton (keyboards) was the only musician eventually brought back in from the previous lineup. Chris wrote to Eric explaining that he understood the necessity for firing the band but that it had been “a bloody long audition.” Touched by his honesty, Eric rehired him (although on a brief hiatus in the late 90s, Chris still tours and records with EC thirty years later). Roger Hawkins (drums) quit a few dates into the tour and was replaced by Jamie Oldaker. Oldaker had previously worked with Clapton from 1974 to 1979.
After recording the album "Money And Cigarettes" in 1983, Eric Clapton would not have a stable band for long periods. In August 1983, Eric Clapton joined Roger Water’s band (ex-Pink Floyd) in the studio for the recording of Waters’ album “The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking”. A year later, Eric signed on with Water's as “just the guitar player” for the tour to promote the album. Clapton did this against the advice of his manager, Roger Forrester.
In September and October 1983, Clapton joined the “ARMS Supergroup”. (ARMS is the acronym for Action Research Into Multiple Sclerosis.) The band played several dates in England and the U.S. to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. Also in the band were Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Joe Cocker and Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones.
In 1984, Phil Collins was hired to produce Eric Clapton's next studio album. They assembled the BEHIND THE SUN STUDIO BAND. When Warner Brothers rejected the album because it did not contain enough “hit singles”, Eric was forced back into the studio. Another group of musicians were brought in. Now working with the top echelon of Los Angeles session players, Clapton recorded “Forever Man”, “See What Love Can Do”, “Something’s Happening”, and “Loving Your Lovin’ ” (unreleased until the 1992 film soundtrack “Wayne’s World”). These sessions would mark the first time Eric worked with Nathan East (bass) and Greg Phillinganes (keyboards). East remained a fixture in Clapton's touring and recording lineups for much of the next 20 years. Phillinganes worked steadily with Clapton for a few years and then only sporadically in the following decades.
Clapton toured the world in support of Behind The Sun, but did not take this new studio band on the road. An incendiary four-song set at Live Aid in July 1985 boosted Eric’s popularity to new heights.
Firing his touring band in early 1986, Clapton returned to the studio with Phil Collins once again in the producer's chair. Clapton put together the AUGUST BAND. The studio line-up featured players from the Los Angeles “singles” sessions from December 1984 and for the first time since his debut solo album, a horn section. “August” would be Eric’s most commercial sounding and biggest selling album up to that time. To promote it, Clapton assembled a FOUR-PIECE BAND with Collins, East and Phillinganes and hit the road.
The band lineups and the dates of Clapton’s participation are as follows:
THE PALPITATIONS (13 January 1973)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Rebop Kwaku Baah (percussion), Jim Capaldi (drums), Rick Grech (bass), Jim Karstein (drums), Pete Townshend (guitar / vocals), Steve Winwood (keyboards / vocals), and Ron Wood (guitar)
ERIC CLAPTON AND HIS BAND I (April 1974 - June 1979)
Eric Clapton (guitar/vocals), George Terry (guitar), Dick Sims (organ), Carl Radle (bass), Jamie Oldaker (drums), and Yvonne Elliman (vocals). Marcy Levy (vocals) was added to the line-up in September 1974. Yvonne Elliman left the band in June 1977. Marcy Levy and George Terry both quit in August 1978. Clapton hired Albert Lee (guitar /vocals) in January 1979.
ERIC CLAPTON AND HIS BAND II (September 1979 - October 1982)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Albert Lee (guitar / vocals), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Gary Brooker (keyboards), Henry Spinetti (drums), and Dave Markee (bass)
MONEY AND CIGARETTES STUDIO BAND (October - November 1982)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Ry Cooder (guitar), Albert Lee (guitar / keyboards), Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass), Roger Hawkins (drums), and Chris Stainton (keyboards)
ARMS SUPERGROUP (September - December 1983)
Ronnie Lane (vocals), Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Steve Winwood (keyboards / vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), Jeff Beck (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar / vocals), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Ray Cooper (percussion), Kenney Jones (drums), James Hooker (keyboards), Fernando Sanders (bass), and Simon Phillips (drums)
ROGER WATERS / PROS And CONS OF HITCHHIKING BAND (August 1983 and May - July 1984)
STUDIO SESSION, AUGUST 1983: Roger Waters (vocals / guitar / bass), Eric Clapton (guitar), Andy Newmark (drums), Michael Kamen (keyboards), Dorren Chanter (vocals), Katie Kissoon (vocals), Andy Brown (Hammond organ), David Sanborn (sax), Raphael Ravenscroft (horns), Kevin Flanagan (horns), Vic Sullivan (horns), and Madeline Bell (vocals)
TOURING BAND 1984: Roger Waters (vocals / guitar / bass), Eric Clapton (guitar), Chris Stainton (bass / keyboards), Tim Renwick (guitar), Andy Newmark (drums), Michael Kamen (keyboards), Mel Collins (sax), Dorren Chanter (vocals), and Katie Kissoon (vocals)
BEHIND THE SUN BAND (March - December 1984)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Phil Collins (drums / percussion / vocals), Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass), Jamie Oldaker (drums), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Peter Robinson (synthesizer), Ray Cooper (percussion), Marcy Levy (vocals), and Shaun Murphy (vocals)
LOS ANGELES “SINGLES” SESSIONS (December 1984)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass), Jeff Porcaro (drums), John Robinson (drums), Steve Lukather (guitar), Michael Omartian (synthesizer), Lenny Castro (congas), Ted Templeman (percussion), Marcy Levy (vocals), and Jerry Williams (vocals). Joining the band for “Something’s Happening” were Lindsey Buckingham (guitar), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), James Newton Howard (synthesizer), and John Robinson (drums).
1985 TOUR (February-October 1985)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals) Jamie Oldaker (drums), Duck Dunn (bass), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Tim Renwick (guitar), Shaun Murphy (vocals), and Marcy Levy (vocals). Marcy Levy toured with the band between February and July. Laura Creamer replaced her for the October tour.
AUGUST STUDIO BAND (April - May 1986)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Greg Phillinganes (keyboard / vocals), Nathan East (bass), Phil Collins (drums / percussion / vocals), Katie Kissoon (vocals), Tessa Niles (vocals), Tina Turner (vocals), Michael Brecker (saxophone), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Jon Faddis (trumpet), and Dave Bargerone (trombone)
FOUR PIECE TOURING BAND (July 1986 - December 1987)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Phil Collins (drums), Nathan East (bass), and Greg Phillinganes (keyboards). Starting in January 1987, Steve Ferrone (drums) would begin alternating with Phil Collins.