When guitarist Eric Clapton, keyboardist and singer Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon formed Derek And The Dominoes, I’m sure the record labels were salivating over the possible sales over the likely 10 albums and massive record sales. Add Duane Allman to the lineup, and how could it go wrong? But it was not to be – one studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, and although it received critical acclaim, it initially faltered in sales and in radio airplay.
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was released in 1970, and it was not until March 1972 that the album’s single “Layla” (a tale of unrequited love inspired by Clapton’s relationship with his friend George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd) made the top ten in both the United States and the United Kingdom. “Layla” featured slide guitar from guest guitarist Allman, who contributed lead, rhythm or slide guitar on most of the cuts on the album.
The song was inspired by the classical poet of Persian literature, Nizami Ganjavi’s The Story of Layla and Majnun, a copy of which Ian Dallas had given to Clapton. The book moved Clapton profoundly, as it was the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unavailable woman and who went crazy because he could not marry her. In his autobiography, Clapton states, “Ian Dallas told me the tale of Layla and Manjun [sic], a romantic Persian love story in which a young man, Manjun [sic], falls passionately in love with the beautiful Layla, but is forbidden by her father to marry her and goes crazy with desire.”
That’s enough words. Just listen.