Eric Clapton Using His Guitar To Do a Lot of Good

Maybe the greatest guitar player ever, Eric Clapton, uses his considerable celebrity networking skills every few years to get great guitarists to play at the Crossroads Guitar Festival to support the Crossroads Center.

Crossroads Centre Antigua was founded by Eric Clapton in 1997 and offers residential care to help those with alcohol and drug addictions recover through therapy and treatment in a supportive environment. Because they’re located in Antigua, the centre emphasizes that there are few distractions, that they feature a serene environment and that because they’re in a remote location, they provide anonymous and confidential treatment for their clients.

In order to raise money to support Crossroads Centre, every few years beginning in 2004, Eric Clapton has hosted the Crossroads Guitar Festival at various locations across America in which Clapton is joined by many of the great guitar players around the world. Not only are the concerts star-studded, but they’re recorded so that a CD of the event can be produced and sold to raise additional funds for the Crossroads Centre.

This year, the first concert since 2010, the event was held for two nights on April 12 and 13 at Madison Square Garden, arguably the greatest venue in the United States and certainly one of the most famous. The vision of the concert, according to the website, is to “feature two nights of musical performances with once-in-a-lifetime guitar collaborations”. And, boy, did it deliver.

Many of the performers were back for their second and even third visit to the festival. Hosted by Dan Aykroyd, it featured approximately 30 musicians ranging from the legendary Buddy Guy to the great B.B. King (still rocking it out at 87!), from a relative newcomer like John Mayer to a country great like Vince Gill, with all types of music and eras were represented. The Allman Brothers performed, Keith Urban was there, and Jeff Beck (who replaced Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds) and Robbie Robertson (of The Band) played as well.

And in the concert’s biggest surprise, Keith Richards (do I even need to tell you what band he plays with?) showed up for an unannounced appearance, joining Clapton on several songs. Closing the show, Eric Clapton and his band – accompanied by Richards and Robbie Robertson – sang several songs, finishing with the rock classic “Sunshine of Your Love”, the 1967 hit written and recorded by British supergroup Cream (of which Clapton was a founding member).

Although final numbers aren’t available as to how much money was raised (partly because revenues will continue to come in as both a CD and DVD of the performances were recorded for release), the concerts have raised about $20 million since they began in 2004. If you want to support a great cause and give props to a celebrity using his name to do some good in our world, consider buying the DVD or CD when they’re released. You’ll be helping a charity and having the added bonus of listening to some awesome music.