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from Andy Aledort’s Kings of Blues and Rock Vol. 5
This month’s lesson examines Eric Clapton, and more specifically, his solo on “Badge,” found on Cream’s farewell album, Goodbye. Although this isn’t a rote transcription, it follows the harmonic ideas originally laid down in Clapton’s solo and attempts to color those ideas through the same influences.
Clapton’s influences on modern rock and blues are immeasurable; without him we may never have heard the sounds of blues-rock, hard rock or heavy metal. He honed his chops in the British blues scene in the mid ‘60s, melding blues with pop in the Yardbirds with such songs as “I Ain’t Got You,” and “Got to Hurry.” From there Clapton took up lead duties for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The mind-boggling solos he recorded during this period set the tone for what was to come, with standouts including “Stepping Out,” Freddie King’s “Hideaway,” and “Double Crossin’ Time,” which still sets the standard for blues-rock recordings.
Known for his incredible phrasing, fluid touch and vibrato, Clapton developed his skills by studying players like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush. What Clapton brought to the table was a distinct, youthful quality not found in the playing of his influences, a quality he retains to this day. A study of his note choice and phrasing is de rigueur for any consummate student of rock or blues.
“Badge” is one of Clapton’s more iconic solos. The solo section of the tune is in the key of D, and the solos are based primarily on D minor pentatonic. The first example is based primarily in the 10th position with occasional moves up to the 13th position. At the 10th position the notes are D, F, G, A, C.
Our solo begins on the second beat of the measure by bending the C up a whole step. Use your bridge pickup for articulation and an overdrive or cranked amp to achieve that driven Marshall tone. Experiment with digging in with your pick to get a bit of thumb in the attack as another phrasing flavor.
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