Eric Clapton’s 1962 Fender Telecaster/Stratocaster Custom
This guitar first appeared in the late Cream days, more precisely during the band’s guest appearance on the Danish movie “Det var en lørdag aften” (It Was a Saturday Evening), filmed on February 5th and 6th, 1968 in Copenhagen. At this time the Telecaster was fitted with a late 60s Stratocaster neck with rosewood fretboard and a large headstock.
Most of the people, however, associate this guitar with the Blind Faith era – or more precisely the first gig that the band ever played together.
Blind Faith at Hyde Park
On June 7, 1969, Blind Faith had their debut concert in front of more than 100,000 people at Hyde Park in London. Eric was seen playing what to most people was a completely unknown guitar – a sunburst Telecaster with a maple Stratocaster neck. This, of course, was the same guitar he was seen wielding on a few rare occasions with the Cream, although the old rosewood neck was now gone.
The maple neck that was fitted on the Telecaster now sported the small 50s style headstock, in comparison to a large late 60s style on the rosewood neck. It also showed some pretty extensive wear on the headstock, meaning that it likely came from an older guitar.
The common agreement is that the neck that was fitted on the Telecaster is, in fact, the same one that was seen on the Brownie – the 1956 Fender Stratocaster that Eric most famously used on the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. There are a couple of angles from which one can approach the issue at hand (which is that of confirming or debunking this theory), one of which is to directly compare the wear on the fretboard.
From this approach, another issue arises – finding good photos of both guitars from which one can safely draw conclusions. Preferably both photos should be taken around the same time, as wear would obviously become much more extensive over the years, even though Eric is known for having somewhat of a “lighter” touch.
The photos above are stills from the 1969 concert at Hyde Park, which show Eric playing his 1962 Telecaster fitted with a Stratocaster neck. A good photo of the Brownie, the Stratocaster from which the neck originates based on the theory, is available on page 8 in the booklet of Eric Clapton 2CD Deluxe Set released in 2006. We are unfortunately not allowed to show the photo directly on this page due to copyright, but you can see it yourself online over at MorrisonHotelGallery.com – Eric Clapton © Barry Feinstein.
If you compare this photo and stills from the 1969 concert at Hyde Park, then the conclusion must be that it is the same neck. We, in fact, invite you to do the comparison yourself, and in case you end up with a different conclusion, came and tell us how you got there by leaving a comment below.
The Telecaster on Tour
Although Eric started of the Blind Faith era wielding this exact guitar, it was somewhat less used on the tour dates. The guitar was only spotted on one occasion (more research is needed on the subject) – in mid-June 1969 in Helsinki – which was during the band’s Scandinavian tour. [Recollections: Blind Faith in Helsinki – AngelFire.com]