1972 Derek and the Dominos – Layla
Delaney & Bonnie and Friends toured the US in 1969. Among the musicians playing on their tour were Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, and Bobby Whitlock. George Harrison and his wife Patti Boyd also participated in the tour. Patti played piano. She was pretty annoyed about George’s many affairs, and she and Eric became close friends during the tour.
Eric had fallen hard for Patti, and began writing songs about her. The most famous of those songs used Patti’s nickname: Layla.
Because of problems relating to money, many of the musicians left the tour late in the year. Eric, Jim, Carl, and Bobby began playing together in small venues in England where Eric’s name was carefully left off all publicity. Dave Mason joined the group briefly, after which they continued as a quartet.
The group began using the name Derek and the Dominos. They relocated to Miami in August and began recording their first album with producer Tom Dowd.
After he caught a live show by the Allman Brothers, Eric invited Duane Allman to join the group. Duane played on most of the recordings on the album, but declined joining the group since that might disrupt his commitments with his current band.
The group’s album got released in late 1970 to a surprising reception: nobody cared.
The album sold poorly. Their record company released Layla as a single, but they cut it down to only two minutes and forty-three seconds. The single peaked at only #51 on the Hot 100.
The group toured and even sang live on the Johnny Cash, but that was their only television appearance.
The band started to record a second album, but they disbanded without finishing the album.
Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in October 1971 and Eric descended into a fugue of depression and drugs.
In 1972, Eric’s record company came up with a brilliant idea: they released The History of Eric Clapton. The album contained songs Eric performed on with the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominos. The complete version of Layla on that album immediately began to get airplay on rock stations, and the label re-released the complete seven minute version of the song as a single. That push was enough to put the record back on the charts. The expanded single reached #10 on the US Hot 100 and #7 on the UK chart in 1972.
In 1982, the seven minute version of the song was re-released in the UK and reached #4 on the UK chart.
Patti divorced George in 1977 and married Eric in 1979. Their marriage lasted about a decade.
The last version of Layla to reach the charts came in 1992. Eric Clapton appeared on MTV Unplugged and performed an acoustic version of the song. The reception led to a release of that performance as a single which reached #12 on the Hot 100 and the top ten on at least three other Billboard charts. It also topped the charts in Japan and Canada and reached the top ten in at least eight other countries.
While Classic Rock stations continue to play music from Derek and the Dominos, the songs rarely show up on oldies stations.
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