Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mentor to Eric Clapton Dies

If you're an admirer of the music of Eric Clapton, you may be aware of Delaney Bramlett, a singer and songwriter who influenced people like George Harrison, Leon Russell, Duane Allman and J.J. Cale during his career.

Then again, you might not. His was not a household name. But he was well known in musical circles.

Bramlett died of complications from gall bladder surgery on Saturday. He was 69.

Clapton always credited Bramlett with pushing him toward a musical career. Bramlett taught Harrison how to play the slide guitar, a skill that was partially responsible for the composition of "My Sweet Lord," one of Harrison's best-selling songs as either a solo artist or a member of the Beatles.

And Bramlett collaborated with many of the most talented performers of his time — writing songs with, recording with and/or performing on stage with the likes of John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Everly Brothers and Joe Cocker, among others.

More than 40 years ago, Bramlett met Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell, a member of the backup singing group for Ike and Tina Turner. Less than a week later, they married and formed a musical act called "Delaney & Bonnie & Friends," where many of rock's icons, including Clapton, began their careers.

The act didn't last, but the influence did.

Jason Ankeny of Allmusic.com aptly described their music as "equal parts blue-eyed soul, blues, country, and gospel." That sound can be heard in the music of nearly all his contemporaries.

Thanks, Delaney. Rest in peace.