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1997 to 2007: Eric Clapton Band History and Lineups

In the fall of 1996, Eric Clapton began work on what was to be his first album of all new material since 1989’s Journeyman. He laid down some tracks at a Los Angeles recording studio with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, but was unhappy with them. Only two of the tracks would make it onto the finished product, Pilgrim (released 1998). 

Eric started over at London’s Olympic Studios with singer / songwriter / producer Simon Climie. The project would take the men more than 18 months to complete. In March 1997, they released Retail Therapy under the band name TDF (short for Totally Dysfunctional Family). A quasi-anonymous effort by Eric Clapton (he called himself x-sample), the CD featured jungle, techno, R&B and ambient music. Despite the processed sound, the guitar work was immediately recognizable and could be no one BUT Eric Clapton. The album grew out of the music Clapton and Climie wrote for a Giorgio Armani fashion show. They rounded out their “band” by adding Paul Waller on drum programming and Tony Rich on vocals. It has never been confirmed that Sheryl Crow is the woman’s voice on the album or if she even participated in the recording sessions. B.B. King is sampled in one track. According to Climie, this project served as “research and development” for Pilgrim. Clapton interrupted work on the album for two short tours.

In July 1997, Eric Clapton embarked on a 11 date tour of the major European Jazz Festivals with Legends. He was not the headliner, but simply another guy in the band. The idea came from bassist Marcus Miller. Miller assembled a band consisting of himself, Eric Clapton, Steve Gadd on drums, Joe Sample on piano and David Sanborn on saxophone. A DVD of their concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival has been released.

It is interesting to note how these musicians worked in interlocking circles over the years. Since the mid-80s, Sanborn and Clapton have been soundtrack collaborators and Gadd played on one of their sessions. Gadd and Miller worked New York recording sessions together since the 1970s. Gadd joined Clapton’s band in 1994 and has toured and recorded with him up until 2004 (before returning for some U.K. dates in 2009). Clapton met Miller when Sanborn used them both at a recording session.

Eric Clapton and Simon Climie continued work on Pilgrim for the remainder of 1997. On 14 September, Clapton took part in “Music For Montserrat” at the Royal Albert Hall. The concert was a benefit to aid the people of Montserrat whose island home had been ravaged by a volcanic eruption. In the late fall of 1997, Eric Clapton and his band embarked on short Far East Tour in Korea and Japan.

When Pilgrim was finally released in March 1998, Eric Clapton had once again reinvented himself musically. It wasn’t what most people expected from him. Some commented at the time it should be subtitled “Eric Clapton Sings”. He had finally evolved into a triple-threat: singer, songwriter, and guitarist.  Between March and December 1998, Eric toured the U.S. and Europe to support Pilgrim.

In June 1999, Eric Clapton auctioned 100 of his guitars to raise funds for Crossroads Centre at Antigua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment clinic he founded in 1997. Additionally, Eric Clapton hosted an all-star benefit concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden to raise further funds for the centre - it has been released on DVD. There was a short tour of Japan in November and December 1999.

With the dawn of the new millennium, Eric Clapton entered the fifth decade of his career as a recording artist. The year 2000 was extremely prolific. February 2000 saw Eric Clapton and his band join B.B. King in a Los Angeles recording studio to record the phenomenally successful, Riding With The King. Guesting on the album was the up-and-coming singer / songwriter / guitarist, Doyle Bramhall II. By the time Riding With The King was released, Clapton was already back in the studio working on his next solo album with his core band, along with Bramhall, Billy Preston, Paulinho DaCosta, The Impressions, Joe Sample and a host of others. Entitled Reptile, it was released in March 2001.

On 19 January 2001 in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Clapton took part in a benefit concert to aid the Wyclef Jean Foundation. Less than a month later, he kicked off a massive world tour with a return to London’s Royal Albert Hall for the first time in 5 years. The tour traveled to Europe, North America, South America and Japan before it concluded on 15 December at the Yokohama Arena. His tour stopped in a number of cities he had never played before, most notably three Russian dates in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The band underwent a number of personnel changes during the ten months they were on the road. The Impressions joined the band for the U.K. Tour and a select number of U.S. Tour dates. Paulinho DaCosta was onboard only for the U.K. / European Tour. Billy Preston joined Clapton's touring band once they hit the U.S. during the spring and summer of 2001. The lineup changed again with the South American and Far East dates as Greg Phillinganes took Billy Preston's place.

On 20 October 2001, straight from his gig in Mexico, Clapton flew to New York to take part in the historic Concert For New York City, appearing in a two-song set with American Blues legend, Buddy Guy. The almost 6 hour concert aired live on VH1 (television) and U.S. Radio Stations. It was a celebration of the strength of New York City and a “thank you” to the city's firefighters, police and rescue workers. A fundraiser for the Robin Hood Relief Fund, the monies were dedicated to assist those affected by the World Trade Center tragedy on 11 September 2001.

2002 was a relatively quiet year professionally for Eric Clapton. One More Car, One More Rider was released on CD and DVD to commemorate his 2001 World Tour. Live performances were limited to a number of one-offs including a spot on the bill at The Party At The Palace which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee and a one-off concert at the Ferrari Maserati Festival at Brands Hatch Racetrack in August. Clapton ended the year by acting as musical director for The Concert For George. He put together this show along with George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, to celebrate Harrison’s life and music.

2003 marked Eric Clapton’s 40th Anniversary as a professional musician and recording artist. During the year, he participated in a number of “one-offs” including a benefit for the Teenage Cancer Trust at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 25 April; Willie Nelson & Friends: Live & Kickin’ (taped 9 April / aired 26 May in the US), 2 June at Lincoln Center in New York City for a Jazz Foundation benefit and on 19 July, a concert to benefit UNICEF with John Mayall in Liverpool, England. Eric Clapton’s “Just For You” tour visited Japan in November and December 2003. On his return home, he took part in a charity gig in Chiddingford, England. Part of the year was spent in the studio recording Back Home and a tribute album to Robert Johnson, Me and Mr. Johnson. Me and Mr. Johnson was released in March 2004. Back Home would not be released until the later part of 2005.

2004 was another busy year. Clapton started things off on 4 January when he was the surprise guest at the Farewell Concert at Guildford’s Civic Hall. He then performed at the One Generation 4 Another benefit at the Royal Albert Hall on 15 March. Other participants include Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Peter Green, Chris Rea, The Zombies, Bob Geldoff and others. During the spring, Clapton toured Europe and the U.K., hosted the Crossroads Guitar Festival on 4, 5, and 6 June in Dallas, Texas and then toured America with his band.

Eric Clapton’s first public performance of 2005 was for the Teenage Cancer Trust in March, joining UB40 on stage as a guest. On 2, 3, 5 and 6 May at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Eric reunited with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker for four Cream reunion concerts. Three further reunion concerts took place in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on 24, 25 and 26 October. A DVD of the London shows was released in October 2005.

Clapton's most recent solo album, Back Home, was released on 30 August 2005. Work on it had started in 2003. In the later part of 2005, Eric Clapton began work on a new solo album, with J.J. Cale as producer and work continued in early 2006. As the project progressed, it changed from a solo CD to a joint effort produced by both men with Simon Climie serving as co-producer. Clapton's and Cale's album, The Road To Escondido was released to critical acclaim in November 2006.

Clapton then launched an extensive 11 month world tour on 5 May 2006. With this solo tour, there were some familiar faces and a number of new ones in Clapton's band. New band members were Derek Trucks on slide guitar, Willie Weeks on bass and Steve Jordan on drums. Chris Stainton and Doyle Bramhall II returned. The tour was also characterized by a set list that changed and evolved as the Eric Clapton Band made it’s way around the world. The tour ended on 6 April 2007.

On 28 July 2007, Eric Clapton hosted his second Crossroads Guitar Festival in Bridgeville, Illinois outside of Chicago. The all day event was another fundraiser for Crossroads Centre at Antigua. In addition to performing his own set with guests Robbie Robertson and Steve Winwood, Clapton joined in on several other other sets. In October 2007, Eric’s autobiography was published and a greatest hits compilation, Complete Clapton, was released worldwide. He ended the year with two guest appearances. On 29 November he sat in with Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. Jeff’s shows were filmed for DVD release, which were released in early 2009. On Friday 21 December Eric Clapton joined Gary Brooker’s band, No Stiletto Shoes, at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club in Chiddingfold, England for their annual local fundraising gig.

The band lineups and the dates of Eric Clapton’s participation are as follows:

TDF (1996)
X-sample (Eric Clapton-guitar), Simon Climie (keyboards / synthesizer), Paul Waller (drum programming), and Tony Rich (vocals)

PILGRIM STUDIO BAND (1996 – 1998):
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Dave Bronze (bass), Pino Paladino (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Chris Stainton (Hammond Organ), Joe Sample (piano), Paul Carrack (Hammond Organ), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), Simon Climie (keyboards / synthesizer bass / backing vocals / drum programming), Chyna (backing vocals), Luis Jardim (bass / percussion), Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds (backing vocals), Tony Rich (backing vocals), Paul Brady (tin whistle / backing vocals), Ruth Kelly-Clapton (spoken verse), Paul Waller (drum programming)

LEGENDS (July 1997)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Marcus Miller (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), David Sanborn (saxophone), Joe Sample (piano)

FAR EAST TOUR (October 1997)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Dave Bronze (bass), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Steve Gadd (drums), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Katie Kissoon (vocals), and Tessa Niles (vocals)

PILGRIM TOUR (March 1998 - December 1998)
US TOUR: Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Alan Darby (guitar), Ricky Lawson (drums), Tim Carmon (keyboards), Kenneth Crouch (keyboards), Chyna (vocals), Katie Kissoon (vocals), and Charlean Hines (vocals)
CANADIAN AND EUROPEAN TOURS: Steve Gadd replaced Ricky Lawson on drums

CROSSROADS CENTRE BENEFIT CONCERT (30 June 1999)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Steve Gadd (drums), Tim Carmon (keyboards), Dave Delholme (keyboards), Katie Kissoon (vocals) and Tessa Niles (vocals). Special guests were David Sanborn, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow and Bob Dylan.

JAPAN TOUR (November 1999)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Steve Gadd (drums), Dave Delholme (keyboards), Katie Kissoon (vocals) and Tessa Niles (vocals)

RIDING WITH THE KING STUDIO BAND (February 2000)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), B.B. King (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / backing vocals), Jimmie Vaughan (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Tim Carmon (Hammond Organ), Joe Sample (Wurlitzer / Rhodes / piano), Susannah Melvoin (backing vocals), Wendy Melvoin (backing vocals), Paul Waller (drum programming)

REPTILE STUDIO BAND (2000)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Jimmie Vaughan (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Pino Paladino (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion), Paul Carrack (keyboards), Billy Preston (Hammond Organ / piano / harmonica), Tim Carmon (Hammond Organ / synthesizer / piano / organ), Joe Sample (Wurlitzer / Fender Rhodes / piano / electric piano), The Impressions (backing vocals), Paul Waller (drum programming)

REPTILE TOURING BAND
EUROPE (February 2001 to April 2001)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), David Sancious (keyboards / guitar), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion), The Impressions (backing vocals on selected dates)
UNITED STATES (May to August 2001)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), David Sancious (keyboards / guitar), Billy Preston (Hammond Organ), The Impressions (backing vocals on selected dates)
SOUTH AMERICA / JAPAN (September to December 2001)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), David Sancious (keyboards / guitar), Greg Phillinganes (Hammond Organ / keyboards)

FERRARI MASERATI FESTIVAL BAND (August 2002)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Albert Lee (guitar), Dave Bronze (bass), Gary Brooker (keyboards), Henry Spinetti (drums)

CONCERT FOR GEORGE BAND (November 2002)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Paul McCartney (vocals / guitar / ukulele / piano), Dhani Harrison (guitar / vocals), Jeff Lynne (vocals / guitar), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Tom Petty (vocals / guitar), Albert Lee (guitar), Marc Mann (guitar), Dave Bronze (bass), Gary Brooker (vocals / keyboards), Billy Preston (vocals / Hammond Organ), Jools Holland (piano), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Ringo Starr (vocals / drums), Jim Keltner (drums), Jim Capaldi (drums), Phil Capaldi (drums), Ray Cooper (percussion), Henry Spinetti (drums), Joe Brown (vocals), Sam Brown (vocals), Katie Kissoon (backing vocals), Tessa Niles (backing vocals), Michael Kamen (string conductor), Anoushka Shankar (sitar / conductor), Jim Horn (alto sax), Tom Scott (tenor sax), Klaus Voorman (bass) Ron Blair (bass), Mike Campbell (guitar), Steve Ferrone (drums), Benmont Tench (keyboards), Scott Thurston (guitar / harmonica), Neil Gauntlett (guitar), Dave Rico Niles (bass) plus an Indian orchestra, the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Boys & Girls Choir, the English Chamber Choir, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, and The Monty Pythons (and their Mounties)

TEENAGE CANCER TRUST BAND (MARCH 2003)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Gary Brooker (keyboards / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar / vocals), Dave Bronze (bass), Henry Spinetti (drums)

2003 STUDIO BAND (SESSIONS FOR “BACK HOME” AND “ME & MR JOHNSON”)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar), Nathan East (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Billy Preston (hammond organ and piano), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Jerry Portnoy (harmonica), Jim Keltner (drums), Pino Palladino (bass)

JUST FOR YOU TOURING BAND (Japan - November / December 2003)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass / vocals), Steve Gadd (drums), Chris Stainton (piano / Hammond Organ / keyboards)

FAREWELL CONCERT AT GUILDFORD CIVIC HALL BAND (4 January 2004)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Gary Brooker (keyboards / vocals), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar / vocals), Dave Bronze (bass), Henry Spinetti (drums)

ME AND MR. JOHNSON TOURING BAND
EUROPE AND UK (March to May 2004)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass / vocals), Steve Gadd (drums), Chris Stainton (piano / keyboards), Billy Preston (Hammond Organ / keyboards), Michelle John (backing vocals), Sharon White (backing vocals), Robert Randolph (Pedal Steel Guitar on encores only)
US (June to August 2004)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass / vocals), Steve Gadd (drums), Chris Stainton (piano / keyboards), Billy Preston (Hammond Organ / keyboards), Michelle John (backing vocals), Sharon White (backing vocals), Robert Randolph (Pedal Steel Guitar on encores only). Note: Tim Carmon (Hammond Organ / keyboards) substituted for Billy Preston on select US dates due to Preston’s hospitalization.

CREAM
May 2, 3, 5, 6 2005
October 24, 25, 26 2005
Jack Bruce (bass / vocals), Ginger Baker (drums), Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals)

BACK HOME STUDIO BAND
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar),Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Steve Gadd (drums), Abraham Laboriel, Jr. (drums), Billy Preston (hammond organ, keyboards and piano), Sharon White (backing vocals), Michelle John (backing vocals), Lawrence Johnson (backing vocals), Nicky “Misschief” Shaw (drum programming and percussion), Simon Climie (keyboards and programming), The Kick Horns (Simon Clarke, Roddy Lorimer, Tim Sanders with Annie Whitehead and Paul Spong), Nick Ingram (strings), Gavin Wright (strings), Isobelle Griffiths (strings). Guest musicians on Back Home: Toby Baker, Chris Stainton, Pino Palladino, Robert Randolph, John Mayer, Steve Winwood, Stephen Marley, Paul Fakhourie, Vince Gill.

THE ROAD TO ESCONDIDO STUDIO BAND
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), J.J. Cale (guitar / keyboards / vocals), Jim Karstein / James Cruce / Steve Jordan / Abraham Laboriel Junior (drums), David Teegarden / James Cruce / Jim Karstein (Percussion), Gary Gilmore / Willie Weeks / Nathan East / Pino Palladino (bass), Billy Preston (Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer Piano & Rhodes), Walt Richmond (Acoustic Piano, Wurlitzer Piano & Rhodes), Doyle Bramhall II / Derek Trucks / John Mayer / Albert Lee (guitar), Christine Lakeland (Accoustic Guitar & Background Vocals), Bruce Fowler / Marty Grebb / Steve Madaio / Jerry Peterson (horns), Taj Mahal (harmonica), Dennis Caplinger (fiddle)

2006 / 2007 TOURING BAND
EUROPE AND UK (May 2006 - July 2006)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / backing vocals), Derek Trucks (slide guitar), Willie Weeks (bass), Steve Jordan (drums), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Tim Carmon (keyboards), Michelle John (backing vocals), Sharon White (backing vocals), The Kick Horns (Simon Clarke, Roddy Lorimer, Tim Sanders)
US / CANADA - EASTERN REGIONS, JAPAN, SINGAPORE, THAILAND, CHINA, KOREA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AND US / CANADA - WESTERN REGIONS (September 2006 - April 2007)
Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / backing vocals), Derek Trucks* (slide guitar), Willie Weeks (bass), Steve Jordan (drums), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Tim Carmon (keyboards), Michelle John (backing vocals), Sharon White (backing vocals)
* until 18 March 2007

2007 CROSSROADS GUITAR FESTIVAL BAND (28 July 2007)
Musicians: Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / backing vocals), Derek Trucks (guitar), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Tim Carmon (keyboards), Willie Weeks (bass), Ian Thomas (drums), Steve Jordan (drums), Sharon White (backing vocals), Michelle John (backing vocals) and special guests Robbie Robertson (guitar / vocals) and Steve Winwood (hammond organ / guitar / vocals)

Related links:

2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival - Details and Line Up

2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival - Details and Line Up

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