Update: Due to the Ranger’s playoff game, Eric Clapton’s Saturday May 2 show has been pushed back to Sunday May 3. Tickets are currently available here and all tickets for the Saturday show will be honored on Sunday.
On May 1 at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Eric Clapton will begin the public commemoration of his 70th birthday with back-to-back performances, clocking in his 46th and 47th dates playing at Madison Square Garden. The revered Bluesman whose guitar style earned him two famous nicknames (“Slowhand” and “God”) becomes a septuagenarian on March 30, and while other men of his age ring in this milestone with dinner and a few glasses of wine, Clapton opts instead to play eight celebratory shows split between New York and London (with six dates at the Royal Albert Hall).
Clapton has strong ties to MSG and New York, having played during the Garden’s inaugural 1968 year with his legendary supergroup Cream. Just a year before, in March of 1967, Clapton made his American debut at Murray the K’s Music in the Fifth Dimension package show at the once-magnificent, now-demolished RKO 58th St. Theatre in Manhattan. Included in this week-long set were the Who, who also made their stateside debut. Clapton has had a two-year absence from New York, with his last appearance being his curated Crossroads Guitar Festival in April 2013.
The Village Voice has been covering and reporting on Clapton since his 1967 debut. Quoted in Richard Goldstein’s October ’67 article, Clapton speaks to his unique soloing capability: “Every musician has a complete catalogue of phrases. At the start of the solo, you play all your clichés. That gives you a basis. You build on it, in steps. The object is to get so far away from the original line that you’re playing something that’s never been heard before. You tear your stock phrases apart and put them back together, and sometimes you surprise even yourself at what comes out.”
Imagine, after 48 years, just how much Clapton has built on this catalogue of phrases.
Eric Clapton’s Two-Night Birthday Celebratory Shows at Madison Square Garden go down May 1 and May 3. Tickets go on sale Friday, March 20, at 11 a.m. here.
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