In the early 1970's my new guitar hero was Eric Clapton. I had not been too aware of him when he was at the peak of his fame as a member of The Cream, but my interest was piqued by a cover article in Rolling Stone magazine about him. The guitarist reverently called "God" by his fans was reinventing his career as a solo artist following a bout with herion addiction. The magazine's cover reflected this deification - its airbrushed painting of a bearded, shirtless and skinny Clapton had a kind of "Jesus" look. His new album was "461 Ocean Boulevard", a laid-back, restrained bluesy work of tightly structured songs with a hint of an "islands" feel to it. I loved the l.p. and darned near wore the grooves out of it.
Clapton's main axe was the Fender
Stratocaster, and his 1956 sunburst Strat, the one he nicknamed "Brownie",
was prominently featured on the front cover of Clapton's earlier 'Derek
and the Dominoes' "Layla" album. A guitar similar to this, only a '72
model, was hanging on the wall of my favorite music store in Palm Harbor,
Fla. I bagged up the Strat for $250 cash and put my double-neck Mosrite
up for consignment. Then I raced home and plugged the new axe into my
little Gibson Explorer amp with its one-12" speaker. A more sweeter sound
I had never heard at any time in my life. Of course Stratocasters are
noted for their varied sounds - going from the hollow milky tone of the
neck pickup to the biting treble of the bridge one - plus the buzzy "out-of-phase"
sounds you can get when mixing the neck or bridge pickup together with
the middle pickup - and this one lived up to all its promise!
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