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October 28, 2008

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Bourjailly: Eric Clapton's Gun Sale

One of my first albums, which I bought in 1972 and dearly loved, was “The History of Eric Clapton.” It’s a two-record chronicle of Clapton’s awesome pre-suck period – Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, etc. – when he kept his mouth shut on stage and played the guitar, which he did (and still does when he wants to) about as well as anybody ever has or ever will.

In the mid-70s, Clapton quit being a guitar hero to embark on a long career as a mediocre pop singer. Listening to Clapton bleat his way through fluff like “Wonderful Tonight” when he could be soloing is like watching Michael Jordan flail at minor league pitching when he could have been defying gravity in the NBA finals.

What does this have to do with guns? This: there’s money in singing bad songs badly, and Clapton has made a pile. Bless his heart, he also likes to “shoot” (which is British for “hunt") and he’s bought a lot of really nice shotguns over the years. Now he needs to get rid of some old guns to make room for new ones.

You’d think he could just buy another gun cabinet, but whatever. Not surprisingly, his collection centers on bespoke English guns. Here are a few of them.


The auction is set for December. Me, I don’t need a gun with Clapton himself engraved on the sideplate (like the William Evans pair, one of which is shown above) but how great would it be to own a pair of Purdeys with Clapton’s initials on them? It would take me right back to 1972.


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Chad Love

Wow. I had no idea Clapton was a gun nut. That's just cool, but
I'm with you on Clapton's vocal talents.
I remember back in the mid-70s my mom listening to Clapton's version of "I Shot the Sheriff" and I always thought it was his song. A few years later in high school a friend introduced me to Bob Marley and I was shocked to learn that not only was Clapton covering a Marley song, but Clapton's version (minus the guitar) really sucked when judged against Marley's.


Yes, a lot of schlock came of Mr. Claptons music of the '70"s, BUT I count him as the bluesman of choice to listen to on the way to the shooting blinds!


Sorry, I know Clapton can play guitar well technically, just like some people can shoot well. However, unless you grew up a poor black sharecropper or you are from the Mississippi Delta, I can't believe that you actually have the blues or are a blues man. Although, I am sure the mean streets of England may depress you. Maybe a Bobby blew a whistle at you when you tried to jaywalk once or your mom burned the Mince Meat Pie and it caused mental anguish.

Robert Johnson was Clapton's idol and if you want real blues, listen to some of that stuff.


I might have known someone who played that good could have other appreciations in quality....my favorite of all is back with the Alman Bros. on the Layla...that was like a soaring angel...


Clapton is God.

God shoots a double.

Joe Biden shoots a double.

Therefore...Uh, this formal logic can lead down strange paths.


I like Clapton, still. But I would much rather have a bespoke gun with no one's initials, and have something to shoot and easy to pass on, than an expensive ornament to hang in an alarm company monitored glass case. Sold most of my "collections" after a mild heart attack. Perspective changes after you get a defibrillator on your chest a couple of times. Funny, but quality means even more now. Would rather spin his records and listen to his magic than have his memorabilia on the wall.


He is still the best "pigmentally challenged" blues man out there. Broken marriages and the loss of a child should certainly count for something. As for shotgunning, I didn't have a clue... In the record (entertainment) industry I guess one must truly bury what could be considered conservative inclinations.


Eric sponsors a rehab clinic, and if you all remember, had a big sale of guitars a few years back, which was how he started funding the project. This is no doubt another fund raiser.
As to being black and growing up on the delta, that might put you in the right place but doesn't mean you will feel it.


E.C. isn’t the strongest Blues singer, but then us white boys can’t sing the Blues all that well although we can play them. Otherwise, Clapton is simply a monster musician.

BTW all you critics for white boy blues listen to Peter Green when he fronted Fleetwood Mac in the 60’s before he fried his brain. Glen Schwartz out of Cleveland [he was in James Gang and in Pacific, Gas, and Electric in the 60’s and 70’s] is someone to listen to even nowadays.

Clapton’s also an expert fly fisherman. Artie Shaw was a crack competitive rifle shot and an expert fly fisherman. Bing Crosby was an exceptional hunter and fisherman. Kurt Russell is an excellent hunter. Jeff Beck is an excellent archer.

BTW I knew a guy that played with Jeff Beck in the Chicago in the late 60’s…..I had no business being on stage with either guy. He and I tried out Jeff’s guitar [a ‘54 ball bat-neck, Les Paul spray painted black, with a wrap around bridge and pickup slots whittled out to fit humbuckers] on break, and were shocked it wasn’t tuned correctly. Off break and for the next show, Jeff Beck picked that un-tuned guitar up, and bends the notes true for the entire set!!!!!! Never played a bad note!!!!

Dr. Ralph

I kept hearing about how Clapton was GOD but the Beatles were so much better songwriters and Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page and Neal Schon and SRV and Eddie Van Halen put the boy to shame with an ax... now that I know he too was a gun nut I have a much higher opinion of him. If you think he hasn't had the blues try kicking a $1000 a day heroin habit.


Yes. The Beatles were songwriters without peer.

"I am the eggman, I am the walrus. Koo koo kachoo."

"He got feet...down below his knees..."

"Number nine. Number nine. Number nine. Number nine. Number nine..."


The album (Yes, I know they are CD's now, and everybody refers to them as "projects". Screw that. They're still albums to me.) that Clapton did with B.B. King is worth a listen. Heck, it's worth several listens.

I bet if John Lennon had owned a bespoke double (now there's a stretch for the imagination) it would have been paisley-stocked and the barrels would have hash residue on them.

Dr. Ralph

I wasn't putting Eric down. In my own weird way it was a compliment... not too many people mention my name in the same sentence as the fab four or Zep. Keith Moon was a certified gun nut and everyone knows Elvis loved to shoot. TV's have never been a favorite target of mine but to each his own.

I punched my name from my last post and cranked it all the way up before checking out Phil's Here link and discovered that Clapton may indeed be the second saviour...


Sorry, but The Beatles absolutely suck. Long Live The King!!!

Elvis is NOT dead, and won't ever be, either...

Dr. Ralph

... and it's goo goo ga'joob.

Jim in Mo

Beck never played a wrong note in his life, although neither did Chet Atkins. Love 'em all.


I read Clapton's autobiography. Didn't notice anything about a fine gun collection. I did notice that when they talk about "sex, drugs and rock and roll", they really meant it. How is that guy still alive?

O Garcia

Hi Phil,

funny you should identify a period in which "E.C." started singing. I thought he began exercising his vocal chords as early as the late-60's "Cream" days. Ever heard of "Crossroads?" "Mr. Eric Clapton on vocals, ladies and gentlemen!"

There is actually a version of "Wonderful Tonight" where Eric does a fair bit of [guitar] soloing. Find a copy of the album "One Night Only."

Glad you mentioned Michael Jordan. I think we need to be reminded from time to time.

O Garcia

"Clapton is God" was scrawled in London after the release of the "Beano" album with Eric playing lead for John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Clapton remains embarassed by that graffito, because most later fans think he makes that claim himself. Clapton never considered himself the greatest guitarist, although he WANTED to be. It's an 'ideal' which he believes he could never achieve.


At least he shoots/hunts. Hopefully he put down the heroin before he picked up the guns. Any chance he has a distinguished Model 12 for sale? PB, get in to the Black Crowes.


Good call on the Black Crowes.

"Sister Luck is screaming out somebody else's name...what a shame."

Good stuff.


I'm gonna have to call bull on the fact that a white boy can't sing the blues. You wanna hear it? Go check out the Big Come Up by The Black Keys. White boys from Akron, Ohio banging 'em out. And to say Clapton has no right to sing the blues is crap as well. He never had a father, and his mother gave him up to be in the care of his Grandmother... if I'm not mistaken, she passed away when he was young.


Dan Cooper of Cooper Firearms is a sellout and a liar. He's contributed over $3,000 to the Obama Campaign and none to McCain, but he lied about that and is trying to cover up that lie with another lie.


I knew there was something I liked about you, Dave. Only now when we look back to when we could buy Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, or even Jimi Hendrix hot off the press do we realize how good we had it. Nobody whose experience with Clapton starts after the early 70s knows how good he is/was. Listen to some old Yardbirds ("Too Much Monkey Business" for one); Clapton will blow your doors off. I agree that Eddie Van Halen is brilliant, but don't care for the songs he plays however well he plays them. Stevie Ray Vaughn was good but is dead. Joe Satriani is probably as good as it gets now.

Clapton's guns? When did we all get so particular? I'd take an Evans double if it had Hillary Clinton engraved on one side and Barak Obama on the other!


It's not Dave in this blog entry; it's Bourjailly

Steve C

A topic worthy of People magazine.

Outdoor Life has become the outdoor magazine equivalent of those rugged outdoorsmen that ride around in Cadillac Escalades sipping mocha lattes and texting deer sightings on their Blackberry.

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