"I feel that that guitar has become part of me. I get offered guitars and endorsements come along every now and then. [A guitar maker] tried to get me interested in a fairly revolutionary guitar. I tried it, and liked it, and played it on stage - liked it a lot. But while I was doing that, I was thinking "Well, Blackie is back there. If I get into this guitar too deeply, it's tricky, because then I won't be able to go back to Blackie. And what will happen to that?" This all happens in my head while I'm actually playing [laughs]. I can be miles away thinking about this stuff, and suddenly I shut down and say, "This is enough. No more. Nice new guitar. Sorry. You're very nice, but..." That's when I drag the old one back on, and suddenly it's just like jumping into a warm pool of water". Clapton first played Blackie on stage at the Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London on the 13th January 1973 at the concert organised by Pete Townshend and others to encourage Clapton's recovery from addiction. Clapton was to play two shows that night, he played Blackie (with a tremolo arm) in the first show, and used George Harrison's cherry red Les Paul for the second. When Clapton fully resumed his recording and touring activity in 1974 after overcoming heroin addiction, he and Blackie were seemingly inseparable. Starting with a short tour of Scandinavia in June, Clapton extensively toured the US, Japan and Europe in 1974 with Blackie. Years of intensive world tours with Blackie followed throughout the rest of the 1970s, which were only broken up by recording sessions. Blackie shared stage with among others Carlos Santana on the 1975 tour, Freddy King at the Crystal Palace Garden Party and at the Dallas Convention Center in 1976, The Band at the Last Waltz concert in 1976, Bob Dylan at Blackbushe Aerodrome in 1978 and Muddy Waters in 1979. The jubilant "comeback" album 461 Ocean Boulevard, the phenomenally successful album Slowhand , the critically acclaimed No Reason To Cry and the historic live album Just One Night from the 1970s, were all recorded with Blackie. In the early 1980s Blackie was by Clapton's side as he fought his way back from ill health and alcoholism and shared the stage with Muddy Waters in one of his last performances in 1982. In 1983, newly recovered Clapton, with Blackie in his hand, acted as the musical director for the star studded ARMS benefit tour for Ronnie Lane, featuring members of the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Stevie Winwood and Joe Cocker. This was followed by recording and touring with Roger Waters on his Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking project. The Behind The Sun album and the subsequent triumphant 1985 world tour, which included the landmark appearance at Live Aid at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia in the summer of 1985, marked Eric Clapton's renewed vigour for making music. It also marked the end of an era for Blackie, as the famous guitar was retired to give way to its offspring, the Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster, the idea for which was conceived after the first night of the 1985 tour. Blackie's last stand at the 1985 tour concert in Hartford on the 1st of May, was filmed and released on video. Blackie also made it to the first promo video by Eric Clapton for the song Forever Man from the Behind The Sun album. The last known occasion when Blackie was seen by the public was for the 1990 television commercial for Honda Japan when, at the specific request of the company, Clapton used Blackie to record a new guitar solo on the song Bad Love in a New York studio and was filmed for the commercial doing so. Blackie was also brought out on stage for one number during the 1991 Royal Albert Hall shows.more
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