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Eric Clapton Pays Homage To Blues Great Robert Johnson On New CD

Published // 02.Feb.04

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE / REPRISE RECORDS

Eric Clapton pays a unique tribute to seminal blues innovator Robert Johnson on "Me And Mr. Johnson," his latest Duck/Reprise Records album, set for release March 23rd 2004. Long known for his love of deep blues, Clapton's expression of Johnson's music stands alongside the Englishman's strongest achievements, and ranks as one of modern blues' most moving accomplishments.

"It is a remarkable thing to have been driven and influenced all of my life by the work of one man," Clapton says. "And even though I accept that it has always been the keystone of my musical foundation, I still would not regard it as an obsession; instead, I prefer to think of it as a landmark that I navigate by, whenever I feel myself going adrift. I am talking, of course, about the work of Robert Johnson.

"Up until I heard his music, everything I had ever heard seemed as if it was dressed up for a shop window somewhere, so that when I heard him for the first time, it was like he was singing only for himself, and now and then, maybe God. At first, it scared me in its intensity, and I could only take it in small doses. Then I would build up strength and take a little more, but I could never really get away from it, and in the end, it spoiled me for everything else.

"Now, after all these years, his music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head, and on the horizon. It is the finest music I have ever heard. I have always trusted its purity, and I always will."

"Me And Mr. Johnson" features Clapton renditions of fourteen of the twenty-nine songs written and recorded by the mythic Mississippi blues master over the course of his brief career in the 1930s. Robert Johnson is often called the greatest blues man of all time, someone who not only inspired Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and other Chicago urban blues titans, but also was a huge influence on the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band in the development of rock 'n' roll during the 1960s and 1970s.

Sixteen-time Grammy Award winner and the only triple Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Eric Clapton has recorded a number of Robert Johnson songs in the past, in previous bands like John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Cream, as well as a solo artist, but this marks the first time he has dedicated an entire album to the legendary blues pioneer. "Me And Mr. Johnson" joins such acclaimed recent offerings as 1994's "From The Cradle" and 2000's collaboration with B.B. King, "Riding With The King," in Eric Clapton's ongoing exploration of his rich musical roots.

Produced by Eric Clapton and Simon Climie, "Me And Mr. Johnson" features the following Robert Johnson perennials: "When You Got A Good Friend," "Little Queen Of Spades," "They're Red Hot," "Me And The Devil Blues," "Traveling Riverside Blues," "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," "Stop Breakin' Down Blues," "Milkcow's Calf Blues," "Kindhearted Woman Blues," "Come On In My Kitchen," "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day," "Love In Vain," "32-20 Blues" and "Hellhound On My Trail."

Joining Eric Clapton on "Me And Mr. Johnson" are such longtime studio stalwarts as Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Billy Preston (keyboards), Jerry Portnoy (harmonica), Nathan East (bass) and Steve Gadd (drums).
 

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