EC: It is such a personal thing - I almost made this guitar myself...from different components, and I've never done that before or since. From six or seven Strats I had bought in Sho.Bud in Nashville. They had them all [displayed] in the back room, when Stratocasters were out of fashion. I bought them for 100 bucks each... I brought them back [to England]. I gave [three of] them to friends: George [Harrison], Steve [Winwood] and Pete [Townshend]; and I kept two or three for myself, and built this [Blackie] out of those. With pickups from one, scratchplate from another, and the neck from another. I played it until it was [time to retire the guitar]...It is still playable...It's immensely playable, but I suppose I was concerned that I was probably doing it more harm than good taking it out...I had so much affection for the guitar that I didn't want to work it anymore really, I think it was time to retire it, because it was getting thin. The neck was [beginning to] wear down...But having said that, it would still come out on special occasions and...it got played... on albums...
LD: I think that around about this time [we retired Blackie]... coincidentally Dan Smith and John [Page] were around and decided that maybe we could make an Eric Clapton Strat.
EC: This is the template for all of those signature guitars. They got as close as they reasonably could...
LD. I have very many fond memories and a great deal of pride looking after [Blackie]...Sounds great - still plays great..everything.
EC: The only thing that these pickups [on Blackie] have that we can never get on the new pickup, is that in between tone switch. Between the 2nd and the bridge pickup - it's one of the greatest sounds you can get out of a Stratocaster. You can get it [on the new models], but it doesn't have...
LD: The same magic.
CW: Is Blackie very different to play than Brownie was - because that was the killer guitar in the last sale?
CW: It's the neck you particularly like on Blackie isn't it?
EC: Yes, it's the neck.
LD: Brownie had a much thicker, clubbier neck..
EC: Yes, Brownie was a much more industrial guitar. This one is really refined, it's like the racer [by comparison]. I had Brownie before this...I bought those [six Strats.] just after I made Layla that year when I was on tour [1970 with Derek and the Dominos]... This was used on everything after that. Slowhand and all those...
CW: Is that the album you particularly associate with this guitar?
EC: Yes ..because it's on the cover of Slowhand - that's the one.
MF to EC: Was there ever a period without a black Strat? Did the first custom one come towards the tail end of Blackie or was there a period where black Strats were out of the picture?
EC: I think even today that's [Blackie's] kind of my ideal. I use the graffiti Strats because they're exciting...But if you asked me to pick the classic Fender - it's s black Strat. with a maple neck.
CW: Will it be very hard for you to part with Blackie?
EC: Yes it will be...But I have to put it into perspective. .. I don't see Blackie all that often. My working relationship with that guitar was exclusively and extensively through the '70s and early '80s and then after that it [was] removed from working life. [so that]...makes it easier...although it's still very difficult.
MF: Has Blackie ever been lent out to other players?
LD: There's a kind of voodoo thing around Eric's guitars...I've always been very respectful of them. Even if I didn't have guitars of my own, I would never dream of playing his...No-one's ever played it...never allowed anyone near it..
CW: Have you thought about whoever buys Blackie - what you would like them to do with the guitar?
EC: ..Treat it with respect. Whatever that means...I can't really say ..whatever's best for it.
CW: As long as it goes to a good home.
EC: Yes - as long as people get to enjoy it..
CW: Are there particular memories of playing Blackie that stand out more for you than others?
EC: Touring yes, the gigs all through the '70s...with Carl Radle and the Dominos. It got some incredibly bad treatment, I remember...ending a number in rehearsal, when I was playing with the guys from Tulsa. Jeremy Oldacre, Carl Radle...I remember ending this song by...falling face down on stage on top of Blackie...I cracked the nut..it just shattered. Apart from that the guitar was fine...
KK - shows EC an old repair on Blackie's headstock - Do you have any memory of this repair?
EC: I think it was originally there...when I got it.. The reason I chose that neck is because it's got quite an extreme V. It's the most extreme V on a maple neck that I've found. It's a beautiful neck. It has a lovely feel..
CW: Have they managed to reproduce that neck on the signature guitar?
EC: Yes to a certain extent. They've done it with an element of safety - they've erred on the side of being functional.
CW: How old is this neck?
LD: It's a '57. One of the pickups was clearly put in the year you bought it, because there's a 1970 pickup. But the other two are old. When they copied Blackie's neck - because of the wear and tear on top of the fretboard here, there's a sort of rounding which is a natural thing from the artist playing it...They tried to emulate that on all the Clapton guitars, by using a little glass slide...so it's not too sharp an edge...Because of wood being an organic material, and the fact that Eric's played that guitar so long, those little nuances and touches...couldn't ever really be exactly duplicated
EC: ..It's a remarkable guitar.