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Derek & The Dominos

Derek & The Dominos

Imagine Eric Clapton's disappointment. "Layla," a song inspired by a burning desire for George Harrison's wife, Patti (she would eventually become Eric's wife, then ex-wife). The song was riddled with emotion but more importantly it featured a two-guitar dual between Clapton and upstart Duane Allman. This song, by itself, would eventually bring Clapton back to Rock's forefront. But when it was released "Layla" did nothing. Stiffed. It was a massive shock.

Clapton began playing guitar in a series of unremarkable bands before finally being asked to join the Yardbirds. From there he traveled a long road that included John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (he was one of the "Friends") to Derek and the Dominos.

Still not wanting to be the focal point, Clapton hid behind the moniker (there was no "Derek" in the group and that was the "joke"). Derek & The Dominos made its debut in a London benefit concert for Dr. Benjamin Spock's Civil Liberties Defense Fund at the Lyceum Ballroom. The line-up was Clapton, Bobby Whitlock (piano, organ, vocals); Carl Radle (bass); Jim Gordon (drums). Ex-Traffic guitarist Dave Mason also appeared but he didn't stay in the group.

Shortly after the show, Clapton and his fellow Dominos headed for Miami to record. The sessions progressed slowly. Taking a break, Clapton went to see a hot new guitarist. Duane Allman's playing so impressed Clapton that he asked Allman to take a break (ten days) from the Allman Brothers Band to work on the "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" album. Allman accepted the offer and the rest is history.

Clapton has called Allman the "catalyst" for the "Layla" album. It was a perfect pairing. Allman was a guitarist on the rise with something to prove, trading licks with a living legend who was not about to give ground. Allman was one of Clapton's best career choices.

"Layla's" failure and the tepid sales of the "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" album led Clapton to disband Derek & The Dominos. In hindsight, the dissolution seems a bit hasty since "Layla" has become a Rock classic rivaling "Stairway To Heaven" and "Hotel California." Furthermore, "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" has been hailed as a brilliant album.

Derek & The Dominos Discography


1970 - Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
1973 - In Concert
1990 - The Layla Sessions: 20th Anniversary Edition
1994 - Live At The Fillmore
2011 - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Deluxe/Super Deluxe Editions

"Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" ('70) is Clapton's pinnacle as both a guitarist and vocalist. While Derek & The Dominos may have been a one-off project they manage to produce one hell of a record. "Layla" and "Bell Bottom Blues" have become Rock standards. But equally impressive is the version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," which became a Clapton concert favorite, and the Blues of "Nobody Knows When You're Down and Out." "Tell The Truth" and "Key To The Highway" are also masterful.

Often two record sets can be distilled to one great record. Here, there is more than enough to warrant a second disc. The "Layla" box set contains alternate tracks/unreleased versions and is strictly for the hardcore Clapton/Derek & the Dominos fan.

Recorded in New York City on October 23-24, 1970, "Live At The Fillmore" (released in '94) presents one of the few Derek & The Dominos' concerts. The set also includes solo Clapton and Cream material ("Crossroads") but no Duane Allman. So it's not too unlike any of the numerous "Clapton Live" collections.


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