Clapton acknowledges Freddie King (1934-1936) as a major influence, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to play with him on tour in the mid 1970s when according to Clapton, King played on an ES-335. In interviews Clapton said of King "...He was my number one influence. He really was....He was a great guy to play with. I can recall going back into his dressing room, and he would show me his gun and his knife, and then we would finish off a bottle of gin before he went on. The man was a hurricane, he was unbelievable, and there would always be a couple of spent women lying around! And then he'd go on and play...He's got the constitution of an ox!..He was big, and he made those ES-335 Gibsons look like toys as he'd play with the strap on his right shoulder. A giant of a man..."
Although Clapton mentions that King played an ES-335, photographs of King in the 1970s often show him playing an ES-355.