Eric Clapton was a busy man in the summer of 1974. In the US touring his new 461 Ocean Boulevard album since mid-June, the schedule took him on August 1 to Atlanta, and a gig at the Omni Coliseum that became widely celebrated and much-bootlegged among Slowhand aficionados.
That was partly because of what happened on stage that night. 24 hours later in Greensboro, North Carolina, it happened again, and another two nights down road in West Palm Beach: Clapton was joined on stage by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon.
Clapton plays Cream
Clapton’s band featured George Terry as second guitarist, his Derek and the Dominos colleague Carl Radle on bass, Dick Sims on keyboards, Jamie Oldaker on drums, and the backing vocals of Yvonne Elliman. Starting the set with “Smile,” Clapton featured such songs as “Let It Grow,” “Willie and the Hand Jive,” and the Cream favourite “Badge.”
But as the Atlanta show came to a conclusion, who should appear from the wings but half of The Who. Townshend jammed with Clapton on “Layla” and Moon sang along with Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie,” performed in a medley with “Baby Don’t You Do It.” Pete then proceeded to smash a plastic ukulele over Eric’s head.
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The following night in Greensboro (ticket price: $7.50), Townshend appeared earlier in the set for “Hand Jive” and “Get Ready,” returning with Moon for an encore that included “Little Queenie” as well as “Layla” and “Badge.” The Clapton, Townshend & Moon combination would happen once more, on August 4, when the tour headed into a break of several weeks with a gig at the West Palm Beach International Raceway. Townshend, Moon, and even Joe Walsh were on hand to join in the festivities, including a version of The Who’s ”Can’t Explain.”
None of those shows have been officially released, but we can give you a taste above of Eric’s 1974 tour as it sounded at his Long Beach Arena show about two weeks before that Atlanta escapade.
Buy or stream Eric Clapton live in 1974 and ’75 on E.C. Was Here.