Song: “I Shot The Sheriff” by Eric Clapton
Reached #1: September 14, 1974 (his first, 1 week)
When Eric Clapton covered Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff” in 1974, for the 461 Ocean Boulevard album, he had already been a member of the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, and Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. He’d also sat in on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (a friend of George Harrison’s, he’d be one of Harrison’s regular guitarists for solo projects) and formed Derek and the Dominos.
461 Ocean Boulevard was his second solo album. He was 29 when “Sheriff” hit #1. And as you probably know, he was just getting started…
You get the sense that Clapton really wasn’t singing the song’s anti-police message (Bob Marley certainly was), but he liked the reggae sound and the chance to experiment with playing reggae on guitar.
It just my opinion, but I’ve called Clapton the world’s greatest guitarist for years. It turns out that he was going to, ironically, call the 1975 There’s One In Every Crowd album The World’s Greatest Guitar Player (There’s One In Every Crowd) to mock that sentiment. However, he finally decided that the sarcasm would be lost, and that people would think he was being serious, so the subtitle became the title.
I could keep recounting Clapton stories, but you can find all of them on the web. Just hit “play” on the live video above and enjoy The World’s Greatest Guitar Player (the only one in his crowd).
Tomorrow, three second-generation vocalists strike out on their own…
Other songs that reached #1 on September 14:
1991 – “Promise Of A New Day” by Paula Abdul (her sixth, 1 week)