By Damian Fanelli | Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
We recently shared our story about Eric Clapton’s isolated lead guitar track from the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
This, of course, reminded us of the equally fascinating lead guitar and vocal track from Derek and the Dominos’ classic 1970 track, “Layla.”
What you’re actually hearing (in the YouTube player below) is a combination of tracks; there’s a rhythm guitar track from the chorus, the lead in the verses and choruses, Duane Allman’s manic slide solos, crystal-clear acoustic guitar at the end of the song—and another guitar that’s filtered through a revolving Leslie speaker, a la “Badge.”
You also get to hear Clapton’s lead vocal, which is doubled on the choruses.
“The song and the whole album is definitely equal parts Eric and Duane,” says producer Tom Dowd, who introduced the two guitar titans, then sat back and watched them soar together.
“There had to be some sort of telepathy going on because I’ve never seen spontaneous inspiration happen at that rate and level. One of them would play something, and the other reacted instantaneously. Never once did either of them have to say, ‘Could you play that again, please?’ It was like two hands in a glove. And they got tremendously off on playing with each other.”
Nowhere was the interplay between Clapton and Allman more sublime than on “Layla,” which, says Dowd, features six tracks of overlapping guitar: “There’s an Eric rhythm part; three tracks of Eric playing harmony with himself on the main riff; one of Duane playing that beautiful bottleneck; and one of Duane and Eric locked up, playing countermelodies.”
Take note of the Leslie guitar, which kicks in at 5:25. Criteria Studios in Miami had one of the first guitar input devices for the Leslie that could vary the speed with a foot switch, and legend has it that Clapton was pretty fond of it. Enjoy!