Eric Patrick Clapton was born on 30 March 1945 in his grandparents' home in Surrey
His mother, Patricia Molly Clapton, was just 16 at the time of his birth, and his father was a 24-year old (married) Canadian soldier named Edward Fryer. He was raised thinking that his mother was his sister and that his grandparents were his parents, until he found out as a teenager. It caused many identity problems with him, and also made him very moody and considered a loner.
When he was 13, he received his first guitar, a Spanish Hoya. He found it difficult and didn't pick up guitar again until college.
In 1963, Clapton joined the Roosters, his short-lived first band. In late 1963, Keith Relf and Paul Samwell-Smith asked him to be a part of The Yardbirds after hearing him on the local Blues scene.
Around this time, he was given the nickname "Slowhand", because whenever he would break a string on stage, he would change it to the accompaniment of a "slow hand clap" from the audience.
In 1966, he joined Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce to form Cream. They broke up in 1968 and then Clapton formed Blind Faith with Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech. They cut one album and had a horrible tour, and disbanded soon after.
Clapton played the solo in The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that same year, falling in love with George Harrison's wife, Patti Boyd...
Soon after the break-up of Blind Faith, he started to tour as a sideman with Delaney & Bonnie. A live album from that tour was released in 1970. Clapton's self-titled debut was also released in that year.
In 1970, Clapton joined George Harrison again, playing on Harrison's All Things Must Pass album. Delaney and Bonnie also played on that album, as did Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, and Bobby Whitlock, which quickly became Derek and the Dominos. The Dominos recorded Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The whole album focused on Clapton's love for Patti Boyd. Despite what people say today about the album, it was a commercial failure, and the Dominos fell apart trying to make their second album.
The following year, he played with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Don Preston, Ringo Starr, and Jim Horn for The Concert for Bangla Desh. At this time, he was going through the beginning of his long battle with heroin addiction. He was also dating Alice Ormsby-Gore, pretty much just to forget Patti.
In 1974, he kicked his heroin habit and released 461 Ocean Boulevard. However, he soon became on alcoholic.
After he broke up with Gore, he started seeing Patti behind George's back. Eventually, they decided something had to be done, and Eric told George he was in love with his wife (reportedly, Pattie was listening nearby) and George simply said "Well, I guess that means I have to divorce her." Harrison and Boyd did just that in 1977, and in 1979, Clapton married Boyd. At the wedding, Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr served as the band.
From then on until 1987, Clapton struggled with his alcohol problem, and eventually, that and Pattie's inability to conceive broke up their marriage (not to mention his romps with other women). One of these produced his daughter, Ruth Kelly Clapton, now 17.
Sadly, on 20 March 1991, his son four-year-old son, Conor, fell to his death from his mother's Manhattan high-rise apartment. He was heartbroken, and went on to write "Tears in Heaven" for his son.
On January 1, 2002 Clapton married Melia McEnery, his 25 year old girlfriend of several years. The couple have a daughter, Julie Rose Clapton, born in 2001.