Eric Clapton Kicks Off 2023 Tour with Tribute to Robbie Robertson
via Paolo Giorgio / YouTube
Eric Clapton, the iconic guitar virtuoso, kicked off his highly anticipated 2023 U.S. tour with a heartfelt tribute to Robbie Robertson, a legendary figure in the world of rock music. Clapton’s opening performance at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena featured two iconic songs by The Band, a group closely associated with Robertson’s musical genius.
A Musical Salute
Clapton’s tour debut began with a rendition of “The Shape I’m In,” a track from The Band’s 1970 album, “Stage Fright.” This was swiftly followed by another classic, “It Makes No Difference,” from The Band’s 1975 album, “Northern Lights – Southern Cross.” Following these soulful performances, Clapton delivered a simple yet profound statement: “Robbie Robertson.”
Remembering Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson, celebrated as both a guitarist and the primary songwriter for The Band, passed away in August at the age of 80 after battling an undisclosed illness. His contributions to the world of music have left an indelible mark on countless artists, including Eric Clapton.
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Clapton’s admiration for Robertson and The Band’s influence on his musical journey is a well-documented part of rock history. During his induction speech for The Band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Clapton shared the profound impact they had on his career. In a revealing moment, he recalled a pivotal juncture when Cream, the band he was part of, was on the verge of breaking up. Clapton contemplated joining forces with Robertson and The Band, a decision that could have altered the course of rock music.
“I went and told Jack [Bruce] and Ginger [Baker] that I couldn’t go on anymore, there was something else happening… I really sort of went there to ask if I could join the Band, only I didn’t have the guts to say it, I didn’t have the nerve. I just sort of sat there and watched these guys work… From that day, I spent the rest of my career, until ‘The Last Waltz’ anyway, trying to imitate what they had.”
A Musical Connection
Eric Clapton’s tribute to Robbie Robertson and The Band serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of their music. The connection between these iconic musicians continues to resonate with audiences, highlighting the profound influence that rock legends like Robertson have had on shaping the sound of a generation.
Watch the tribute performance below: