Crossroads Guitar Festival performances now available on CD
In addition to his career as a legendary guitarist and recording artist, Eric Clapton is the founder of the Crossroads Centre, Antigua, and Crossroads Guitar Festival. The facility opened its doors in 1998 and has become an internationally recognized substance abuse “Treatment Centre of Excellence, providing services to individuals and their families suffering from the devastating effects of addiction.” Clapton writes in a message posted on CrossroadsAntigua.org that the center is “the perfect place to begin the road of recovery and utilizes a combination of effective therapies to address addiction and recovery, while capturing the spiritual serenity that many have found unique to Antigua.”
Clapton, 71, says at one point during the ‘70s he was near death from the ravages of his heroin and other substances. “I had three ulcers and one of them was bleeding. I was drinking three bottles of brandy and taking handfuls of codeine, and I was close to checking out,” he tells Classic Rock magazine. “Because I’m in recovery from alcoholism and addiction to substances, I consider it a great thing to be alive at all. By rights I should have kicked the bucket a long time ago. For some reason I was plucked from the jaws of hell and given another chance.” He decided to show his gratitude by founding Crossroads.
One of the center’s primary fundraisers is the Crossroads Guitar Festival—a recurring event that brings together guitarists from “across the musical spectrum.” Since 2004 the concerts have become “the stuff of legend,” according to a news release, and while fans have enjoyed some of the festival’s “magical moments” on DVD and Blu-ray releases, only a few of the performances have made their way to CD or any other audio format. Rhino/Warner Bros. has therefore compiled music from all four of the festivals on Crossroads Revisited: Selections from the Crossroads Guitar Festivals.
Held every three years in various U.S. cities, the Crossroads Guitar Festival features an impressive lineup of respected musicians from the worlds of rock, blues, and country. The 41-track “Crossroads Revisited” is available digitally and on three CDs, featuring performances from festivals held in 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013. The nearly four hours of live performances offer a “veritable ‘Who's Who’” of guitar greats including Clapton, Jeff Beck, James Taylor, Steve Winwood, Gary Clark Jr., Robert Cray, Billy Gibbons, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Joe Walsh, Ronnie Wood, Jimmie Vaughn, and others.
Highlights include Clapton playing solo versions of his classics ‘Layla,’ ‘Cocaine,’ ‘I Shot The Sheriff,’ and George Harrison's ‘Isn't It a Pity.’ He joins Santana on a rendition of ‘Drums of Passion (Jingo),’ sings and plays alongside longtime friend and collaborator JJ Cale in a performance of ‘After Midnight,’ and shares the stage with Blind Faith bandmate Winwood for covers of Traffic's ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ and Blind Faith's ‘Presence of the Lord.’
Other standout performances showcased on “Crossroads Revisited” are Walsh and Taylor teaming up to play ‘Steam Roller,’ while Clapton collaborates with King, Vaughan, and The Robert Cray Band to play ‘Everyday I Get the Blues. Sheryl Crow sings her country tune, ‘Our Love Is Fading,’ and is featured on Clapton’s ‘Lay Down Sally’ as well as and Willie Nelson’s ‘On The Road Again.’ Albert Lee, Derek Trucks, Cray, Beck, and Clapton also jam at length on various numbers that display each’s masterful guitar talents.
Watch Eric Clapton and other guitar greats in performances from the Crossroads Guitar Festival.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, was born March 30, 1945, in Ripley, Surrey, England. His mother was only 16 when she and a 25-year-old Canadian soldier stationed in England conceived the future guitar master. When his father returned to Canada after the war, Clapton was raised by his grandmother. He grew up thinking his mother was an older sister.
* After stints in groups including the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes, Clapton launched his solo career in 1970. The gold-selling, self-titled debut features the JJ Cale tune ‘After Midnight.’
* Subsequent releases established Clapton as a versatile artist across pop, rock, blues, and other genres such as reggae. The latter was demonstrated on his No. 1 hit cover of Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ He also developed a penchant for ballads such as ‘Wonderful Tonight.’
* In March 1991, Clapton's four-year-old son was killed in a fall from a balcony. In the midst of his mourning, the singer-songwriter penned ‘Tears In Heaven’ in memory of his little boy. The song appears on the “Rush” movie soundtrack and became a massive, platinum-selling hit, peaking at No. 1 in several countries and climbing to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
* In 1998, the recovering alcoholic and drug addict founded the Crossroads Centre, Antigua—a medical facility for recovering substance abusers. Two years later Clapton teamed up with old friend B.B. King on Riding with the King, a set of blues standards and material from contemporary artists.
* Clapton started his own Bushbranch imprint on the independent Surfdog Records label and released the 2013 LP Old Sock. The collection of jazz, folk, and blues standards was followed by the DVD Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 and an expanded, remastered edition of Unplugged—the live 1992 masterpiece that achieved the RIAA’s diamond certification for sales in excess of 10 million copies.
* In 2014, a new release titled, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale, was issued as a tribute to Clapton’s late collaborator, who died the previous year. A collection of Clapton’s Warner recordings are compiled on the 2015 project, Forever Man, and he reunited with producer Glyn Johns for his third album on Surfdog, I Still Do, which appeared in May 2016.
* Clapton tells Classic Rock magazine that I Still Do might be the guitarist’s last studio album due to health issues. “I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year,” he reveals in a recent interview. “It started with lower back pain, and turned into what they call peripheral neuropathy—which is where you feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg.” The Grammy-winning artist admits it’s “hard work to play the guitar,” and has come to terms with the fact the condition won’t improve.
* Eric Clapton is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. He ranks second only to Jimi Hendrix on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” and remains the only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—earning admission as a member of the Yardbirds, Cream, and as a solo artist.
* As a rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Eric Clapton has earned 18 Grammy Awards as well as a BRIT Award for Outstanding Contributions to Music. In 2004, he was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his achievements in music.