John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers: Steppin’ Out
Delaney and Bonnie with Eric Clapton: Poor Elijah
Derek and the Dominos: It’s Too Late
There are some pretty obscure pieces of trivia in the Guinness Book of World Records, but “Artist associated with the most And Bands” is probably not one of them. My guess would be that the record is held by Eric Clapton.
Eric Clapton’s first recorded work was with the Yardbirds, but the style that he became famous for first began to take shape during his brief tenure with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Clapton only made one album with them, in 1966, but that was enough to start his legend as a blues-rock guitar god. The album was simply called John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton. Mayall had a deep love of the blues, a great talent for finding sidemen who would go on to greater glory, and a horrible singing voice. He was also generous to his bandmates. Steppin’ Out is one of several instrumentals from the album that prominently featured Clapton’s guitar, and the album also included Clapton’s first recorded vocal, on Ramblin’ on My Mind.
Of course, Clapton cemented his early fame in Cream, starting later in 1966, but I have excluded them from this post for obvious reasons. Cream was followed by Blind Faith, another band that does not fit our theme. But the opening act for Blind Faith was Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Clapton quickly became one of those friends, and his association with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett would last longer than Blind Faith did. The Bramletts made important contributions to Clapton’s first solo album. Bonnie even co-wrote one of Clapton’s early solo hits, Let it Rain.
Finally, this post would not be complete without Derek and the Dominos. The band consisted of Clapton, plus Delaney and Bonnie’s rhythm section, joined on their best known album by Duane Allman. They are seen here on Johnny Cash’s old TV show. Cash knew well the connections between country music and the blues, and it’s great to see that the in studio audience appreciated this as well. I’m not that the audiences for what passes for country music these days would respond this way, although I would like to think so.