Contact Us

Why Is Eric Clapton Called Slowhand? How Did Eric Clapton Get His Nickname?

Was it his fast guitar playing chops?  Was it the fact that he took forever to change his broken guitar strings?  Was it drug-related?  How did Eric Clapton come to be known as Slowhand?  The answer isn’t definitive, as the facts and story surrounding the nickname have changed or evolved over the years.

The one thing we know for sure is that Clapton received the nickname from Georgia Gomelsky – the Yardbirds manager, circa 1964.  But why he gave it to him differs, depending on what story you read – and what year the account was written.

One theory suggests that Gomelsky gave Clapton the nickname because when he broke a string onstage, Eric would remain there in the spotlight while he strung a new one on his instrument.  By most accounts, Clapton was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to putting a new string on his axe and it took a long time for him to complete the task.  While they waited, the crowds would usually start to do the “slow handclap”.  Consider that “clap” was part of his name and put the “slow” and “hand” part of that together and its easy to see how that nickname would have happened.

While the pertinent details of that story have remained constant over the years, some of the fringe details have changed or evolved.  In some interviews, Clapton would suggest that Gomelsky coined the term as a taunt of Eric’s fast fretting skills or the way he held the guitar.  Some interviews, the whole guitar string portion of the story would disappear.

One alternate version that has floated around suggests that the slowhand term was drug-related.

Whatever the finite details, Eric Clapton’s nickname was forever branded when he titled his 1977 release “Slowhand” – an album that became a breakout smash.


Some facts for this post were sourced from the following websites:

Best of Kool 101.7

Recommended for You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for KOOL Gang quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive KOOL Gang contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.