By Jim Johnson

Many music enthusiasts sometimes like to refer to guitarist Eric Clapton as “God” but his real nickname, and the one he prefers, is “Slowhand”.

It was this week in 1977 that Clapton’s most succesful album, “Slowhand”, was released.  It has now been re-released in celebration of it’s 35th anniversary.  In 1977 the album peaked in the number 2 spot on the Billboard charts and remained there for 5 weeks.  Among the songs on the album were some of his biggest hits: “Wonderful Tonight,” “Lay Down Sally,” and “Cocaine”.

I guess I always assumed the nickname “Slowhand” was meant to be an irony because of the blazing speed he commands the guitar with.  Not the case however.  ’60’s bandmate from the Yardbirds, Chris Dreja. explains it has something to do with Clapton breaking his guitar strings:

“To get his sound he went to incredibly light-gauge strings, so every evening he would break a string… And in a very good-natured way the audience used to slow hand clap while he changed the string. That’s how he got the name: slow hand clap, Eric ‘Slowhand’ Clapton.”

(Audio courtesy of Premiere Networks)

Clapton likes the nickname:

“It’s got a nice affectionate ring to it… And of course The Pointer Sisters made that great record – ‘Slow Hand’ – which makes it quite clear that a man with a slow hand is someone to actually go after. So it suits me down to the ground.”

(Audio courtesy of Premiere Networks)

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