One of the great classic rock songs was inspired by Nizami, a twelfth-century Persian poet, who told the story of a love affair gone wrong in The Story of Layla and Majnun. HL In Eric Clapton’s version of the tale, the source of unrequited love was Patti Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. Clapton never again sounded as tortured as he does here, even on 1992’s “Tears in Heaven,” which Clapton wrote about the death of his four-year-old son. AMG Oh, and Nizami’s version missed a key ingredient of its musical counterpart — “the most recognizable guitar riff in history.” BBC
Derek and the Dominos was a short-lived ensemble comprised of Clapton, members of Delaney and Bonnie’s band, and guitarist Duane Allman, who adapted the “incendiary, fiery riff that fuels the first section” AMG from Albert King’s “The Years Go Passing By.” CR
Also notable was Jim Gordon’s “serene, piano-based coda.” RS500 He was a multi-instrumentalist, but was best known for his drumming. This, however, was a piece he’d been working on for years, finally finding its way into “Layla” two months after the recording was supposedly finished. CR
The original U.S. single peaked at #51 in 1971. The next year, a longer version went to #10 in the U.S. and #7 on the UK charts. A decade later, it hit the UK charts again, going to #4. In 1992, the song emerged in a slower, live version from Clapton’s Unplugged album and hit AC and album rock. “It was an admirable reworking, but...[the] original recording remains one of the towering moments in rock & roll history.” AMG
- one of the top 100 songs of the rock era, according to the DMDB
- one of the top 1000 songs of all time
- one of my personal favorite top 100 songs of all time
- Grammy Hall of Fame
- Mojo Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time>
- NME Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
- RIAA’s 365 songs of the 20th century
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
- Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
- Virgin Radio – Top 100 Songs
- top 100 classic rock songs of all time
- one of the top 100 songs of the 1970s
Resources and Related Links:
- Eric Clapton’s DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- Derek and the Dominos’ DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- DMDB page for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
- DMDB page for “Layla”
- AMG All Music Guide
- BBC BBC Radio 2 (2004). “Sold on Song Top 100”.
- CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 484.
- HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh. (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 64.
- RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.