Before his aunt's death, legendary guitarist Eric Clapton thanked her for putting up with him, as he had been a "difficult boy." "I like you, and I still do," she countered which gave him the title of his 23rd studio album, I Still Do, which has just been released.
Clapton's family history had its own surprises. His mother, Patricia Molly Clapton, was 16 when she had a short relationship with Clapton’s dad, Edward Walter Fryer, a 24- year old Canadian soldier stationed in Britain as World War Two drew to an end.
A child born out of wedlock in 1940s Britain was not necessarily welcomed as other children were, and mothers often faced social or family ostracism. Patricia’s mother and step-father made a decision to raise Eric, who was born in 1945, as their own, telling him he was their son and his mother was his sister. Fryer died of leukemia in 1985 and the musician never actually got to meet his father.
I Still Do, the album whose title honours the woman, was produced by Glyn Johns, who produced Clapton's mega-selling 1977 album, Slowhand. He also produced Clapton's classic reading of JJ Cale's song Cocaine and the musician's evergreen hit, Wonderful Tonight.
Original tunes as well as covers of classics by Bob Dylan - I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine - and blues genius Robert Johnson (a version of Stones in my Passway) feature on the new album. The record is already judged by many EC fans to be a return to form, after some indifferently-received releases.
Talking with Glyn Johns to actor-comedian Paul Whitehouse for a short promotional film, Clapton signalled the necessity of capturing live performances in the studio. "If you're going to start overdubbing, you're in trouble," he tells Whitehouse.
Johns recalls producing albums for The Who, Led Zeppelin, Linda Ronstadt and the Rolling Stones. "I've worked with lots of really good guitar players, and the difference with Eric is he absolutely very rarely – in my experience with him, anyway – sits and figures something out to the nth degree. Most of it is an emotive response to what he's hearing around him, to what the song suggests, or whatever else. … It goes straight from his heart to his fingers."
The 12-track I Still Do is released on Bushbranch / Surfdog Records.