Friday, March 10, 1978

Eric Clapton “Wonderful Tonight” released

Wonderful Tonight

Eric Clapton

Writer(s): Eric Clapton (see lyrics here)

Released: March 10, 1978

First Charted: May 13, 1978

Peak: 16 US, 24 CB, 23 GR, 25 HR, 39 AC, 2 CL, 30 UK, 15 CN, 53 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 2.68 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 7.0 radio, 296.24 video, 331.86 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This was the third single from Slowhand, Eric Clapton’s fifth solo outing. The album reached #2 in the United States and sold three million copies. His only studio album to match it in sales was 1994’s From the Cradle although his 1992 Unplugged live album did sell ten million copies in the U.S.

Clapton wrote “Wonderful Tonight” about Pattie Boyd. While the song is celebrated for its romantic expression of love and become “a fixture at proms and weddings,” SF the back story isn’t so sweet. Clapton met the international model when she was married to the Beatles’ George Harrison (he wrote the Beatles’ 1969 hit “Something” about her). Even though Clapton and Harrison became close friends, Clapton fell for her and pursued her. She rebuffed his advances and he wrote the Derek and the Dominos’ 1970 classic rock hit “Layla” about his longing for her.

After a three-year self-imposed exile and heroin addiction, Clapton pursued Boyd again in 1974. They began a relationship while she was still married to Harrison, who she eventually divorced in 1977. She married Clapton in 1979 but she divorced him in 1989, citing alcoholism, abuse, and infidelity.

Clapton wrote the song on September 7, 1976 while waiting for Boyd to get ready for an annual Buddy Holly party hosted by Paul and Linda McCartney. WK As she said, Eric “was sitting round playing his guitar while I was trying on dresses upstairs. I was taking so long and I was panicking about my hair, my clothes, everything, and I came downstairs expecting him to really berate me but he said, ‘Listen to this!’” SF

Cashbox said his “singing is superbly understated; the guitar work is simple and evocative.” WK Billboard described itas “perhaps Clapton’s prettiest and mellowest love ballad in some time.” WK


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First posted 12/24/2022; last updated 12/26/2022.

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