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Derek & the Dominos

(1970-1971)
Derek & the Dominos
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Bobby Whitlock (organ)
Carl Radle (bass)
Jim Gordon (drums)

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Eric Clapton got the idea to form the band after they played together on George Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass.
The 3 members who are not Clapton were in the band Delaney And Bonnie, and got to know Clapton while they were touring with Blind Faith in 1969.
After playing in high-profile groups Cream and Blind Faith, Clapton wanted to keep a low profile, and insisted that he remain anonymous while they were touring. At first, most people had no idea Clapton was in the band.
They released only one studio album, Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. It flopped when it first came out in 1970, probably because it wasn't promoted using Clapton's name. Two years later, when people knew it was Clapton's project, the album was re-released and became a huge hit.
Duane Allman played on some the sessions. A huge fan of Clapton's, he was invited to come by the studio. Clapton asked him to sit in, and they became good friends. Allman died a year later in a motorcycle accident.
Bobby Whitlock told us: "We were going to call ourselves The Dynamics. That was the one we came up with since we couldn't think of a name. Our very first gig was Dr. Spock's Lyceum. Ashton, Gardner and Dyke opened it up for us. Tony Ashton, real funny guy, was going to introduce us, but we didn't have a name, so we said, "Well, we're The Dynamics." We used to call each other nicknames, and Eric was "Derek," so we said, "How about Derek and The Dynamics." He said, "That's fine" and went out on stage to introduce us - he said "Ladies and gentlemen, Derek and the Dominos." My heart went to the floor, I couldn't believe it. I could see myself in a zoot suit - we'd be wearing one color suit and Eric would be wearing another. Where I grew up, if the name was The Dominos, you were going to be wearing matching suits. That was the first thing that flashed through my mind, but it stuck, and that was that. That was the first time we were ever called Derek and the Dominos, but always after that."
Dave Mason was a Domino for a day. He played the Dr. Spock benefit show with the band before going solo.
They tried to make a second album, but drugs and other personal problems got in the way. Whitlock explains:
"The road and substance abuse killed it, but mostly ego killed that band. Eric had a big ego and so did Jim Gordon. Eric had an inferiority complex. Those things don't mix, especially when you put alcohol and drugs with them. We were doing those sort of things. We were all indulging in our own form of egotism. I wanted to do my own thing. The premise of Derek and the Dominos was that we could play together as a band and still do our own solo stuff. That didn't work. Everything just got out of hand with the drugs and all that, so eventually everyone just drifted after the initial blow up with Jim Gordon and Eric. When the band broke up, he refused to play with Jim Gordon ever again. They had a falling out right in the middle of the session, so that was that. That was fine with me, because what we were recording was garbage. They have it out now as the jams and alternate Dominos stuff, the second album - it's garbage. I've heard garage bands that sound better than us. You can really hear it on there, it's just a lot of ego with Eric and Jim. I didn't want to get in the middle of it - a great deal of the stuff I didn't even play on. It was like who could play the most and get the most complicated. When that whole thing broke up, I decided - "Shoot, here I've got everybody I've ever played with, I'm going to record my own record." I wanted to play. I was used to playing. I wasn't used to sitting around looking at my picture on my own wall. That wasn't my idea of doing what we were supposed to be doing. I decided to do my own record, so I called Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd and talked to them about doing a deal, and we did. I had done a deal with Atlantic with Jerry. They said, "Go on in and do it," so I asked everybody - I asked Jim, Carl, Klaus Voorman, George Harrison, Bobby Keys, Delaney and Bonnie, Eric - I asked everybody I'd ever done anything with to give me a hand with this thing, so my first record was really Derek and the Dominos."
Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, is a double album. After touring small concert halls in Europe, they flew to Miami, recorded the album in 10 days, and began touring the US.
Along with Stephen Stills, the band backed up Clapton on his first solo album in 1970.
Radle died of heroin-related kidney failure in 1980. Gordon developed severe mental problems and was institutionalized after murdering his mother in 1983.
In 2003, Whitlock released an album called Other Assorted Love Songs, which is taken from a show he did with his wife, Kim Carmel. The album contains tracks from the original Layla album with acoustic arrangements. It was released on The Domino Label, which he and Kim run from their home in Sheffield, Alabama. To learn more, check out www.bobbywhitlock.com. (thanks for Bobby for speaking with us about the band)
Richard Feld worked for The Festival Group, which supplied the sound systems and sound crew for the Layla tour in 1970 - the company later morphed to Activated Air Audio Services, and toured with Hot Tuna, Traffic, J. Geils Band and many others. Richard gives this account:

"The tour, unlike the music, was somewhat a failure with poor crowds. Clapton, when not on stage, was high in the motel playing with slot cars. Few in the band got along and most always complained. It is great that Eric cleaned up his act and is still one of the best rock and roll guitarists in the business."
Clapton asked the 15-year-old Neal Schon to join the band as a guitarist, but Schon turned him down, joining Santana instead. Schon formed Journey in 1973.

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Comments:

To know the real story of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Debra Hunter try this link! It involves conspiracy theories, Nazi's, the Illumanati and visitors from another planet!
http://www.the-beatles-history.com/something-about-layla.html
- Woody, Boca Raton, FL
Maybe I'm older than all of you, not sure. One thing I do know is the scandal about George Harrison's wife(Patti Boyd) and Eric, fairly public. I was always told that Layla was based on her. She left Harrison for Clapton. Anyone have more info on that? NO musician is God. As far as Duane, in 1970 in New Orleans I threw my ticket stub and walked after watching a mic hummed across stage and a couple of punches thrown. Never paid for one of The Allman's live concerts again, but bought all the music.
- Mitzi, New Orleans, LA
I heard an interview with a lady name Layla, who met Clapton in 1969 and they have daughters named Layla and Sally. She said her and Clapton were agents for Interpol for a good many years, but not now and that his name was "Boss." Her and Clapton started a scandal over the song Layla and he took it to far...he was really hard to get along with and had no confidence as she tryed to get him to use his own name for the band as Clapton bragged about Allmans playing and how good is was. About that time she told him to sing with his natural voice and quit straining his voice with a high pitch sound. But she said something about she did'nt know if he would live this long because he made remarks about death. When they winked at each other it was about covert actions and they would laugh because no one knew what they were agents...
- Donna, College Station, TX
The album is a all-time classic Skydog and god
jamming and playing the blues; the anniversary
box set has great alternative takes on the songs;
Mean Old World - a blues classic- ALLWAYS REMEMBER DUANE -the greatest ever on slide
- francis, new york, NY
I know theres some mistakes in Bobby Whitlocks memory over the years. But see this is how it really went and he should know that Eric had a girlfriend in Missouri that wrote Layla and titled it after her nickname and that she named Derek and the Dominoes. So he needs to get his facts straight. Eric was spending time in Butler Co. Mo with the love of his life Debra Hunter and she wasn't secret to the rock world or the media. So we were used to having Eric and other famous people in and out of our town as far back as the 60s as some of them traveled together. Elvis also came to town two times to watch Erics girlfriend on stage at her high school and I was told the piano was played by Jim Gordon for her special she did in the gym and it was Jim that zipped her dress for her on stage that had came unzipped. Also the Beatles came to watch her sing with Clapton. Debra did gospel too and told Eric she only wants two songs at her funeral, Layla and He Touched Me by the Gaithers. Layla was the first big hit Debra wrote, Eric sung it to her all the time, and every where she went people chanted Layla, Layla. In fact she said she wanted a song that would be a big hit and be around for a long time as a classic and thats what the song is all about, proving she could do it. Eric was not happy that the song idled so she told him to let it cool, (like writers do) then push it and of course again she proved she knew the biz. Eric and Debra have two sets of twins together and he still comes thru town to visit and was here in disguise in November 06. So I'm thinking Whitlock may not know Eric as good as he says he does because what hes saying isn't accurate about Erics life and his songs, Erics writing actually leaves alot to be desired and you can tell by the wording that many songs are from a woman and not a mans way of expressing and wording. In fact Eric ask Debra if he could write a book about her. He offered her everything he owns if she would marry him and she declined.
- Rob, none
I think there is a strong influence from the group "The Band" on this record. Eric was very taken with the rgroup at this time. Does anyone else hear this influence in the songs???
- MJ, Boston, MA
Neal Schon, guitarist for Journey and other bands like..Bad English,Schon & Hammer, Soul SirkUS... played with Derek & the Dominoes, I'm not sure it was only on tour or if he recorded with them too.
- Bob, Canada, Canada
I'm not sure if "Live in Concert" mentioned earlier is meant to be the original Derek and the Dominos "In Concert" version or the different "Live at the Fillmore" released in the 90's. I felt that the versions of "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad" and "Let it Rain" were inferior to the ones on the original, it's a crying shame that they were included. Finding the relatively rare CD or the vinyl is definately worth it! Clapton plays some white hot lead as well as some of that sweet, poignant stuff when they lower the dynamics. Pure magic-the band backs him magnificently on these cuts, as well as the rest! There are some additions to "Live at the Fillmore" that ARE great-- "Crossroads" (much more traditional and slower than the Cream "Wheels of Fire" version), "Key to the Highway", "Nobody Knows When You're Down and Out", and "Little Wing" (have always been lukewarm on this cover). "In Concert", though, is a must if you love Clapton's Strat playing!
- Mark, Anchorage, AK
I'm only 13 and one of their biggest fans! I only wish I was alive to hear them when they came out! It is one of the greatest Rock albulms ever, and Duane Allman and Eric Clapton made a dynamic duo
- Spencer, Edmonton, Canada
Apart from Exile on Main street by the Rolling Stones, Derek and the Dominoes have produced the perfect rocknroll album ever. Never before has anyone recorded an album with as much raw emotion, the songs hit you for every mood you wake up with. Its a shame when first released that the public needed Claptons name before the album was recognized fully. I have the album at work in the car and at home, cannot get enough of it !
- Charlie, Nice, France
Duane Allman didn't just sit in. From the third song on he tears up the album. You have to hear it to believe the incredible interplay between these two guitar virtuosos.
With Duane Allman one would have to say there were three all world players on this album, Clapton, Allman, and Gordon. Radle and Whitlock were first rate. A ton of talent available.
And, of course, the moon and tides were right in Clapton's personal life to produce a heart wrenching set of songs, with the band playing their absolute hearts out.

You get an album like this once in a decade, maybe. Stunning songs, played with a passion and ferocity never matched. Get this album.
- Rick, Fayetteville, AR
This is probably Eric Claptons finest album,of course, he has created some incredible music before and after Layla. For me, one of the most touching albums of all time. And with Duane Allman tearing up the other lead,not much more too say.
- Don, Pittsburgh, PA
"Layla" wasn't their only album. The other album they had was "Derek and The Dominoes...Live in Concert." In my opinion, one of the best live albums of all time. "Clapton is God."
- Carroll, Toms River, NJ
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