50 years later, make the best of the situation

Best Classic Bands:

Derek & the Dominos’ legendary 2-LP set, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, is being released as a 4-LP vinyl box set and 2-CD edition for its 50th anniversary. The title, originally released on November 9, 1970, has been expanded to include bonus material not previously available on vinyl. The new editions arrive Nov. 13 via UMe/Polydor. The original has been given the “Half-Speed Mastered” treatment by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios.

Derek & the Dominos’ legendary 2-LP set, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, is being released as a 4-LP vinyl box set and 2-CD edition for its 50th anniversary. The title, originally released on November 9, 1970, has been expanded to include bonus material not previously available on vinyl. The new editions arrive Nov. 13 via UMe/Polydor. The original has been given the “Half-Speed Mastered” treatment by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios.

From the September 22 announcement: The album is notably known for its title track, a classic rock evergreen, which features the dual wailing guitars of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman. Alongside this are a further two LPs of bonus material some of which has not previously been released on vinyl. All the bonus material across all of LP3 and LP4 is mastered normally (so is not half-speed mastered). The LP set also includes a 12×12 book of sleeve notes taken from the 40th Anniversary Edition.

In 1970, following the break-up of Blind Faith and Clapton’s departure from Delaney & Bonnie, Derek & the Dominos initially formed in the spring of that year. The group comprised Clapton on guitar and vocals alongside three other former members of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends: Bobby Whitlock on keyboards, Carl Radle on bass and Jim Gordon on drums. Derek & the Dominos played their first concert at London’s Lyceum Ballroom on June 14, 1970 as part of a U.K. summer tour. During late August to early October they recorded Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, with the Allman Brothers’ guitarist Duane Allman sitting in, before returning to a tour of the U.K. and the U.S. until the end of the year. Shortly thereafter the group disbanded but their short time together offered up one of the rock canon’s most enduring albums of all time.

Clapton’s first work with the Beatles was …

The first noticeable thing the Dominos did was to play on George Harrison’s first solo album, “All Things Must Pass.”

All four Dominos attended an Allman Brothers Band concert in Miami Aug. 26, 1970. Afterward Clapton invited the band, including guitar player Duane Allman, back to his recording studio for an all-night jam session.

Allman then asked Clapton to watch their recording session. Clapton said if you’re going to watch, you’re going to play.

And play they did, starting with one of the most famous opens in rock history.

That guitar lesson prompted this funny comment (you decide if it’s based in reality):

The Nacho1 year ago (edited)

I have an electric guitar and a crush on my friend Layla. I will do what I must…
Edit: I’m almost done learning the intro. I think I’m gonna play it on her birthday
Edit 2: She got a boyfriend before I even had the chance to play the song. But not everything is lost
Edit 3: They broke up! I’m not sure how to feel about that…. I’m taking some guitar classes too. I need to speed up my learning, school is getting hard.

“Layla” is one of the more interesting figures in rock history who wasn’t a performer — Pattie Boyd, who was married to Beatle George Harrison when Clapton met them. Harrison and Boyd met on the set of the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night.” Boyd acted — to be precise, one word: “Prisoners?”

Ultimate Classic Rock picks up the story from there:

She was the ex-wife of his friend George Harrison, and inspiration for the songs “Something,” “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.”

Clapton and Harrison became close friends in the ’60s, at which time Clapton became infatuated with Boyd, who continually rebuffed his advances. But Clapton remained deeply in love with her. Many of the songs on Derek and the Dominos‘ 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (especially the scorching title track) were thinly veiled autobiographical accounts of his feelings for her. Unfortunately, the album didn’t have the effect Clapton intended, and he fell into a three-year, heroin-induced isolation.

Before I married Mrs. Presteblog I had several romantic breakups. As depressed as I was after some of them, I never fell into three-year heroin-induced isolation.

This does make me wonder what goes through Clapton’s mind every time he plays this, in the same way I kind of wonder what goes through the mind of James Pankow, trombone player for Chicago, who wrote “Ballet for a Girl from Buchannon” attempting (and failing) to get his ex-fiance back.

Back to Boyd and her entanglements:

Harrison and Boyd were splitting up by 1974, right around the time Clapton was kicking heroin. With Harrison’s blessing, she ran into Clapton’s arms. Five years later, they tied the knot.

That was after Boyd’s fling with guitarist Ron Wood of The Faces (with Rod Stewart) and eventually The Rolling Stones provided further musical inspiration.

Something called Let’s Discover Yourself explains the title of the Dominos’ album:

Clapton used Derek and the Dominos’ lone studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, as a more than 77-minute declaration of love to Pattie Boyd Harrison. The name “Layla” came from the fifth-century Arabian poem-turned-book The Story of Layla and Majnun, adapted by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. A mutual friend gave copies to both Clapton and Boyd. It was about forbidden love. Clapton secretly met with Boyd one afternoon in a South Kensington flat and played the song for her off of his tape machine. Boyd wrote that it was “the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard” and noted that Clapton had identified with Majnun and was determined to know how she felt. Boyd went home to Harrison, at least on that day.

Layla is actually a two-part song. Gordon is credited for writing the piano finish, although others credit Rita Coolidge, one of Delaney and Bonnie’s “Friends” before her solo career.

Yes, there is a song on the album that doesn’t appear to have been inspired by Boyd.

Back to Clapton and Boyd:

Two months into the marriage, the newlyweds held a reception for their friends in Clapton’s garden – the same place where Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun.” In attendance were Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

An impromptu jam session among the guests started, which was the closest there had been to a Beatles reunion until the Anthology project in the mid-’90s. John Lennon was not invited to the party due to his long-running immigration issues.

For all the two went through, however, the marriage didn’t last long. Clapton’s drinking problem and infidelity caused them to separate in 1984; they finally divorced in 1988. Pattie Boyd wrote about her marriages in the 2007 memoir Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.

In a sense the whole story ends on sad notes …

… and not just because of their breakup, which of course inspired more music.

Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Ga., in 1971, shortly after the Allman Brothers released “At Fillmore East.”

Clapton called Allman “the musical brother I never had but wished I did.” (If you haven’t read Clapton’s autobiography, you should, particularly if it includes the CD.)

Gordon, meanwhile, performed on other albums …

… but then started hearing voices, and stopped sleeping or playing drums. Doctors misdiagnosed his mental illness as alcoholism. Then, on June 3, 1983 (my 18th birthday, for those who care), Gordon attacked his 72-year-old mother with a hammer and killed her with a butcher knife. Only then was Gordon diagnosed with schizophrenia. Gordon was convicted of murder and sentenced to 16 years to life imprisonment. His next parole eligibility date is in March.

Clapton, meanwhile, became a father. His son, Conor, was 4 when he fell out of an open window 53 stories to his death at his father’s New York apartment.

That horror inspired “Tears in Heaven” …

… from Clapton’s “Unplugged” album, which includes unplugged Layla:

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s