Back in the day, there weren't too many artists as antsy as Eric Clapton.

After his career-making stint with the Yardbirds in the mid '60s, he played with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends and Derek and the Dominos in a span of about five years. That doesn't even include his sideman gigs with former Beatles George Harrison and John Lennon on solo albums during that time.

Almost every single one of those projects was celebrated – and not just because Clapton was often the guiding force. He was smart enough to surround himself with musicians who were able to match him note for note. He may have been Cream's biggest star, but without bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker alongside him, they wouldn't have had the same impact that they did.

But Clapton's greatest achievement of the period was basically a solo album elevated to a classic by the group he assembled to back him. Derek and the Dominos were put together by Clapton following the breakup of the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith and his sideman work with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends.

The album they made in 1970 – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs – was basically a jam session among friends Clapton, keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Carl Radle and, for some songs, guitarist Duane Allman, who was working on the Allman Brothers Band's second album when he got a call from Clapton to join the sessions.

The result is one of the era's greatest albums, a song cycle inspired by Clapton's love for Pattie Boyd, who happened to be the wife of his good friend Harrison. Clapton rips out his heart and exposes the bleeding mess to fans in a series of songs that rank as his all-time best: “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out,” “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,” “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and “Layla.” (There's a happy ending to this story, at least for Clapton: He eventually married Boyd.)

Like most Clapton endeavors from the era, Derek and the Dominos didn't last long. After a brief tour (without Allman), they broke up. A live album was pieced together and released in 1973, but Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs remains their, and Clapton's, masterpiece, as you'll see in the following list of Derek and the Dominos Albums Ranked Worst to Best.

See Eric Clapton’s Guitar Hero Yearbook Picture

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