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A Peek Into Eric Clapton's Family Album

June 19, 2001 -- Music legend Eric Clapton found inspiration for much of his new album, Reptile, in the characters and turbulent times of his youth, growing up in post-war Surrey, England.

In the second part of his two-part interview on Morning Edition, NPR's Tom Cole reports that after a career spanning decades and music genres from rock to R&B, Clapton always seems to return to his first love: the blues.

"I think it's the purest form of music that I can actually get engaged with," Clapton told Cole. "And it's my first language." One man, a guitar and a voice -- "this is what I want, this is uncluttered."

It wasn't easy even finding blues music in England in the early 1960s, says Tom McGuinness, who formed a band with Clapton when they were both teenagers. In fact, it was something of a badge of honor, a private language that Clapton shared with only a few others.

The songs of Mississippi blues legends such as Elmore James and Sunny Boy Williamson have influenced much of his own music, Clapton said. "I've always thought that the most important part of my work was to let people know where I got it from."

Reprise Records official Clapton site
Tom McGuinness biography

Images and audio courtesy of Reprise Records