Eric Clapton

Guitar great Eric Clapton is preparing for his 50th anniversary tour next year and in a recent post on his official website, Clapton broke the news that, indeed, he has been recording a new studio album that will reach fans’ ears in early 2013. It’s a good time then to look a bit closer at the man they called ‘God”

He’s the only artist who’s been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times.

In 1992, Clapton received his first induction into the Rock and Hall of Fame, for his membership in the The Yardbirds. A year later, he was again inducted for his role in the legendary power trio, Cream. Finally, in 2000, he was inducted as a solo artist in the very first year in which he was eligible.

He would have gotten a fourth Rock Hall induction, had he been successful in his quest in join another “Band.”

“I first met Eric in Los Angeles around the time Music from Big Pink came out,” The Band’s Robbie Robertson told Spinner, earlier this year. “[Later] he came to our house in Woodstock to visit with us. I thought he was just curious but then he said years later that the real reason was that he had come to join The Band. I made a joke out of it, saying, 'Were you implying that we need a new guitar player?’” Ironically, Clapton presented The Band with their Rock Hall induction in 1994.

The one instance in which he believed he might retire from music was … when he left The Yardbirds.

“The Yardbirds were determined to have a hit and I was determined not to be involved with that,” Clapton told Larry King, in 1998. “I actually thought I was going to retire. I was 18 years old, and I thought, it's over. Every band I looked at had the same agenda: Let's get a hit record and recording contract. And I kind of went, and then what? For me, the road was about a different thing altogether.”

His first “really serious” guitar was a Gibson ES-335.

At the turn of 1965, while he was in The Yardbirds, Clapton bought a cherry red ES-335, which he called “the instrument of [his] dreams.” He elaborated, in his 2007 autobiography: “It was the first of a new era of guitars, which were thin and semi-acoustic,” he wrote. “[The ES-335] was both a ‘rock guitar’ and a ‘blues guitar,’ which you could play, if necessary, without amplification and still hear it.”

It was Marc Bolan’s future wife who hooked him up with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

A great friend of Clapton’s at the time, June Child gave Mayall the phone number of a former bandmate of Clapton’s in his first band, The Roosters. Mayall in turn phoned Clapton and asked him to join The Bluesbreakers. Child went on to become an assistant to Pink Floyd’s troubled founder, Syd Barrett, before marrying T.Rex’s Marc Bolan in 1969.

Derek and The Dominos might have carried on had it not been for drummer Jim Gordon’s troubles.

“I was scared of [Gordon] at the end of Derek and the Dominos,” Clapton told Rolling Stone, in 1991. “One of those reasons we broke up was the rapport between me and Jim, which had always been so good, had broken down. In the middle of a session when we were trying to do a second studio album, I said something about the rhythm being wrong for the song, and Jim said something like ‘Well, the Dixie Flyers are in town, You can get their drummer.’ I put my guitar down and walked out of the studio. I didn’t speak to him again.”

He collects Ferraris.

“I’ve loved motor races since I was a child …” Clapton said, in comments posted earlier this year by “I love the sound of Ferraris and I, as a musician, can confirm that these engines deliver proper music. I have to say that my weak point is the 12-cylinder’s music. The sound of the 12-cylinder is the most magical thing in the world.” You can watch an interview conducted by Ferrari with Clapton here.

He loved George Harrison, but he thought Beatlemania was “despicable.”

“It showed how sheep-like people were, and how ready they were ready to elevate players to the status of gods,” he wrote, in his autobiography. “Most of the artists I admired had died unheard of, sometimes penniless and alone.” Of course, in due time, Clapton himself would be dubbed a “god.”

He once hit actress Shirley MacLaine in the face with a pie.

In 1975 Clapton was invited to participate in a “celebrity circus” alongside James Bond legend Sean Connery, director John Huston, actor Burgess Meredith (of future Rocky fame), and Shirley MacLaine. One skit called for Clapton and Meredith to hit one another in the face with pies. For the first two shows they performed as scripted, but for the third show, they (drunkenly) surprised MacLaine with a face-full from both sides. The actress remained furious with Clapton for months.

Of all the bands he’s been in, the one he wishes had lasted longer was … Blind Faith.

“I think Blind Faith was over too soon,” he told MSNBC, in 2007. “We could have gone on maybe a couple more years. But I'm not really a band member. I think all [the other] bands probably lasted about the right amount of time for what they were meant to do.”

Check out the Eric Clapton 1960 Les Paul here.