Clapton and Friends

Goldmine Magazine, October 14, 1994

Another account of the 1974 concert, for a different audience. From Goldmine's 20th anniversary issue which had readers' 1974 musical experiences.

When I wrote this article, I used the best information available at the time. Since then, I have found two additional sources of information that disprove what I previously believed to be true.

When Clapton introduced Pete, Keith Moon actually appeared onstage and hit Clapton on the head with "Legs" Larry Smith's toy guitar! This disputes my sixth paragraph and also Marc Roberty's account. Pete only appeared onstage once during the encores to play "Layla," "Badge" and "Little Queenie." Finally, Keith Moon apparently was not allowed to play Jamie Oldaker's drums after damaging them the night before in Atlanta. He played maracas in Greensboro.

All the photographs are from that night. The black and white photos are courtesy of Gray Ragan and the color photos are from Butch. He has more pictures and his account of the concert here and here. If you can't bring up these sites, they are mirrored here and here.

Shortly after my high school graduation, my friend Bob Lucas enthusiastically informed me that Eric Clapton was coming to Greensboro on August 2, 1974. Whether or not to go was never an issue. Except for the Who, Clapton's albums occupied the largest segment of my record collection. This first appearance of Clapton in the Carolinas could have been our only chance to see him. After all, his personal life was rather unstable with recent seclusion, heroin addiction, and unrequited love. Twenty seven was rather old for a rock star in those days and he could have been nearing retirement after stints in the Yardbirds, John Mayall's
Blues Breakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, and Derek and the Dominoes. The $7.50 ticket price was tolerable, although staying overnight would have been too extravagant. Six hours of travel in an unreliable car seemed a small sacrifice to see the world's greatest guitarist.

Concerts attract interesting people. A guy with a John Deere cap over his crew cut was trying to force his way through the crowd to get to his mother. He quickly discovered our lack of empathy for his quest when he tried to shove us aside! Two young men wearing suits were discussing the previous night's concert. One said Pete Townshend and Keith Moon had joined Clapton on stage. I observed "Well, that was Atlanta and this is Greensboro" and quickly forgot the conversation.

Comedian "Legs" Larry Smith took the stage and did a Pete Townshend impersonation, prancing around with a tiny guitar while the PA system blared "Pinball Wizard". It seemed a cruel joke and I wanted to hear rock and roll, not comedy.

But momentarily Eric Clapton appeared with an acoustic guitar. Starting with "Smile", the set included "Easy Now", "I Can't Hold Out", "Tell the Truth", "Blues Power", "Have You Ever Loved a Woman", "I Shot the Sheriff", and "Let It Rain". The band consisted of Carl Radle, George Terry, Jamie Oldaker, Dick Sims, Alby Galuten and Yvonne Elliman. It was a laid back concert peppered with blistering guitar solos.

Without warning, Clapton said "And tonight, for your pleasure or my pain, one of the two, the great Pete Townshend." Ultimately, Keith Moon also joined the proceedings, physically yanking the drummer from his seat!

Seeing half of The Who with half of Derek and the Dominoes was so overwhelming that later I had no idea what they played! Two sources helped me reconstruct the event. Music collectors can imagine my delight years later to find a tape of 85 minutes of the concert, including Clapton and Townshend playing "Willie and the Hand Jive" and "Get Ready". The Eric Clapton Scrapbook
by Marc Roberty confirms this, and states Pete and Keith played on "Layla", "Badge", and "Little Queenie". I do not think "Layla" was actually played, but then again, I was in shock at the time!

How times change! Tickets to see the Eagles are $97.50 instead of $7.50. Rock star retirement age remains nebulous. Eric Clapton's astounding career continues and he has turned his tragedies into triumphs. In 1974, our high school was fortunate to have a link with a computer. In 1994, I can play Clapton's introduction of Townshend on my personal computer's Sound Blaster! Over the years, I became a tremendous Clapton fan and located an autographed album through "Goldmine"! I had to sell my guitar in the early 70's to buy my first car, but finally made restitution by purchasing an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster!

Playing guitar is a tremendous source of satisfaction for me and Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend have been the core of my music appreciation course. Even though I have seen both musicians on numerous occasions, been on other cool road trips with Bob, and even met musical heroes like Jackson Browne and John Hiatt, nothing can
compare to what happened twenty years ago today. I just hope the two men who talked about the Atlanta show enjoyed a great laugh at my expense!

Reprinted from "Goldmine Magazine," October 14, 1994 issue. "Goldmine" is published biweekly. For current rates, call (715) 445-3775.

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