Even though Eric Clapton is known as one of the most legendary guitarists in music history, he has still expressed his admiration for other musicians. Clapton has praised his fellow industry peers multiple times, and even revealed the one guitarist he thinks has the ability to surpass his own skills.
One of the names Clapton had immense respect for was Jimi Hendrix. They bonded shortly after meeting during Clapton’s Cream days and became good friends. They also shared their admiration for each other in interviews. Clapton was devastated when Hendrix passed away and often stressed that no one after him had tried to take his original style of playing further.
Clapton has also found inspiration in blues music, and his deep admiration for blues legends B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Ray Charles is widely known. He even had the opportunity to collaborate with King on the album ‘Riding with the King’, which achieved the top spot on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart in 2000.
However, Clapton’s pick as the guitarist who could outdo him any day is Carlos Santana. Clapton had the opportunity to share the stage with Santana and was impressed by his talent. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Clapton expressed his highest regard for the guitarist. He admitted that Santana was a very strong player and kept him on his toes.
“Well, from playing with him on this tour, I know that Carlos Santana is a very, very strong player,” Eric responded when asked to identify a guitarist who could surpass him. “He kept me on my toes. Basically, though, I wouldn’t say I like to give a specific opinion on someone else’s playing. Not only is it unfair to another musician, but I don’t keep track anymore.”
“I’m not a competitive guitarist,” added Clapton. “I’ve settled into my own pace. If I have to change my ways in order to top a poll somewhere, I’d rather not play.”
Clapton also mentioned that he was not inclined to compete with other guitarists and did not want to judge someone else’s playing skills. He thought that every musician has a unique place in the industry and he had established his own rhythm. In 2004, Clapton and Santana performed together at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, and their rendition of ‘Jin-Go-Lo-Ba’ is still considered a remarkable moment in the history of rock.