Rik Emmett says Eric Clapton’s guitar playing has a “fairly narrow palette” and “he might have ended up being a better R&B singer” than a guitarist

“There’s things that he lifted that he kind of stayed with all of his career.”

Eric Clapton and Rik Emmett

Image: Samir Hussein / Bobby Bank / Getty Images

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Former Triumph guitarist Rik Emmett has shared his thoughts on Eric Clapton’s supposedly “narrow palette” as far as his guitar playing is concerned.

Speaking with MisplacedStraws about his own guitar career and influences, Emmett says that while Slowhand might be “God” to some, the musician might actually end up “being a better R&B singer” instead.

“They go, well, ‘Eric Clapton is God’. I go, ‘well, Clapton, actually, he might’ve ended up being a better R&B singer’,” says Emmett. “His guitar playing is a fairly narrow kind of a palette, if you think of those three guys that came out of the Yardbirds, [Jeff] Beck, Clapton, [Jimmy] Page.”

“Eric was the narrowest of them all. He was the most old-school blues with a lot of stuff that was, well, okay, but come on now, that’s an Albert King lick, there’s things that he lifted that he kind of stayed with all of his career, which is not to say that he didn’t write good songs that weren’t like that. I’m not putting them down,” Emmett continues.

“What about Jimmy Page? Well, he expanded a lot more than Clapton did. Then what about Jeff Beck? Well, he expanded the most. He was the most creative of them all in terms of what he made his hands do on an electric guitar.”

The rocker also admits that all three ex-Yardbirds have to a degree inspired his style, saying “I had a little bit of all of them, the influence of all of them.”

Emmett, known for his tenure as the lead guitarist for the Canadian hard rock band from 1975 to 1988, and for notable reunions in 2008 and 2019, lent his vocal prowess to some of the group’s most iconic tracks, such as Hold On, Lay It On the Line, Magic Power, and A World of Fantasy.

As a solo artist, Emmett’s latest release was 2023’s Diamonds: The Best of the Hard Rock Years, 1990-1995.

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