Again this list is in no specific order of importance or self discovery.
Since high school, Eric Clapton has been one of those guys for me. I even played and sang "After Midnight" at my Mount Royal College final jazz recital. It was the only non-jazz piece in my recital. I felt that excluding Eric Clapton in my final recital in a post secondary music setting, would not fully represent me as a musician.
Eric Clapton has done a bunch of things for my musical growth.
1. For starters, he introduced me to the blues. He is still one of my favourite blues guitarists and through him I discovered a whole world unknown to me. Through Clapton I was introduced to Buddy Guy, B.B. King ( who I had heard), Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howling' Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Cray, Elmore James and the list goes on. Wow, what a discovery! Thanks Eric! I know I'm not alone because he along with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Keith Richards helped a whole generation of kids discover their idols and these blues men got a second career in some cases. His sound and playing on John Mayall and the Blues Breakers "Beano" record is some of the best blues guitar playing I've ever heard. He also sounds fantastic playing on the two Howlin' Wolf recordings made in London in the early 70's.
2. He is the ultimate rock star in my opinion. Cool, collected and is extremely talented. He never jumped around on stage and did windmills or anything like that (sorry Pete) and because of that, he still looks cool playing on stage at age 70. I think one of the greatest rock songs ever is "Layla"( the original version). When that opening riff starts, the hair still stands up on the back of my neck. I also love Duane Allman's slide work on that record (Derek and the Dominoes - "Layla and other Love Songs"). He and Clapton played very well together. Clapton has always had such a great tone whether it was his Les Paul through a Marshall sound which he demonstrated from his early years with John Mayall's Blues Breakers through his years with Cream, to the great Strat tone he still has. You can always tell it's him.
3. Clapton always has a fantastic band on recordings and on tour. I remember hearing Jamie Oldaker on "461 Ocean Boulevard" and "Slowhand". Wow, what a great drummer! His feel was great and even though the band played pretty loose, he grooved hard. I've always been a big fan of the drums and find myself really listening to the drummer on recordings and of course when I am playing as well.
Clapton had world class drummers like Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, Steve Ferrone (likes Steves for some reason) Jim Keltner and of course his association with the great Ginger Baker in Cream and Blind Faith.
4. Clapton is not only a fabulous guitarist but has a great voice. I love Clapton's voice. So soulful and his phrasing is great. He is one of my favourite singers as well.
That's all for now.