How Eric Clapton Got the Nickname “Slowhand”
The nickname “Slowhand” was not, as is commonly thought, given to Clapton due to playing the guitar slowly. Rather, it was given to him because of audiences giving him a slow hand clap when he would replace guitar strings on stage. When most guitar players break a string on stage, a roady will typically bring them another guitar and fix the string on the old one off-stage. Clapton, on the other hand, had a practice of standing on stage and replacing and tuning the string in front of the audience. While he was doing this during one particular performance, the audience gave him a slow clap or a “slow hand” until he had fixed it and was ready to play again. This slow-clap ultimately became a common thing with Clapton, while with the Yardbirds, where whenever he’d break a string during a performance, the audience would give him a slow clap until he was finished replacing it. According to Eric Clapton, the guy that managed the Yardbirds, Giorgio Gomelsky, then gave him the nickname “Slowhand”: “He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into Slowhand as a play on words.”
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