Eric Clapton's Recognition of the Head On A Stick

In Chronological Order

Royal Albert Hall, London, February 4, 2001

This account is provided by Sam: "2-4-01, the debut of the head on a stick, at RAH in London, UK. During the stage rush for "Layla", EC first saw the head appear out of the front row 10 feet away from him while taking his closing bow with the band. Probably because he was woozy from flu (he did cancel his next performance), as well as the initial shock of seeing his face staring back at him for the first time while not standing in front of a mirror, EC gave me a confused/bemused look at first. Then, when recognition of what he was actually seeing registered in his mind, he shot a half-smile/chuckle my way before exiting stage left."

Bobcat Arena, Charlotte, October 17, 2006

An email I sent to friends after the concert stated: "As the band lined up for the final bow, Eric spotted the Heads on a Stick that Sam and I were waving. He laughed and pointed them out to Derek."

HP Pavilion. San Jose, March 18, 2007

This was Derek Truck's last show with the band, although he would resurface at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. We honored him with the debut of the Derek Trucks Head on a Stick with Detachable Ponytail.

The debut of the Derek
Trucks Head on a Stick
with Detachable Ponytail

An email I sent to friends after the concert stated: "And finally, the Heads On A Stick were quite a hit. Derek and Doyle spotted them right away and laughed at various times during the show. Steve Jordan pointed them out to did Mr. Clapton who laughed and gave us a thumbs up."

My girlfriend also reports that she tried to give the Heads to Eric, extending towards him. He paused momentarily as if considering her offer, then continued his exit. We gave them to a crew member and asked that he pass them on to the band. Maybe he did, because Derek certainly remembered us when we saw his band in Charlotte later that year...

Crossroads Guitar Festival, Bridgeview, July 28, 2007

Unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence of the piece de resistance of Eric Clapton recognition of the Heads On a Stick. Ruth Clapton was sitting beside her Dad at the left side of the stage. She seemed amused by our Head on a Stick antics. At one point, she tapped Eric on the shoulder and pointed us out to him. He laughed and shook his head. His real head, not the Head on a Stick. I told Sam that we should have the Eric Clapton Head on a Stick ready when Ruth looked our way again. Sure enough, when she looked again, we proudly flashed our Eric Clapton Heads on a Stick in her direction. And then, the most wonderful thing happened. She tapped her father's shoulder, he looked at us and took our picture! I would make a sizable donation to The Crossroads Centre if I had a copy of that picture. Anybody? Eric? Ruth? Bueller? Bueller?

During Robert Randolph's set, Robbie Robertson was sitting beside Eric Clapton. They noticed our Robert Randolph Heads on a Stick, one with a Removable Hat and one without. Sam read Clapton's lips when he said to Robbie Robertson "Where do they come up with this shit?" Both shrugged their shoulders with exaggerated "I don't know gestures."

Sam with Ruth Clapton
after the festival

"Where do they come
up with this shit?"

Madison Square Garden, February 28, 2008

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood's final Madison Square Garden was blessed with video documentation of the end of the show both from the front of the stage and from the back of the stage! Here are some screen shots:

The view of the Heads on
a Stick from the front of
the stage

The view of the Heads on
a Stick from the back of
the stage

Both Heads are now in
one hand as I take the
picture shown below

The picture on the left captures Clapton's reaction to the Heads on a Stick. However, I also like the modified picture on the right, courtesy of our friend Geetarz:

But the video from the back of the stage also provides Zabruder-like video documentation of Eric Clapton's reaction!

Initially, it seems like
any other final bow

Eric responds to the Heads
by lurching backward

Seconds later, he returns
to his original position

Ford Amphitheater, Tampa Bay, May 3, 2008

An email I sent to friends after the concert stated:

"> Did you bring the heads?

Yes and they were definitely noticed! Doyle tapped EC on the shoulder and he looked and laughed - hard. Another state to add to the tally!"

Verizon Center, Washington D.C., June 13, 2009

There is nice video documentation of Clapton's reaction to the Heads on a Stick at this concert. A YouTube video documents the end of "Dear Mr. Fantasy" in Washington. At 1:40, at the right side of the stage, you can see me and then my girlfriend walking to the front with our Heads on a Stick. Then at 2:10, you can see Clapton lowering his head and laughing. I have created a shortened version of the video to better demonstrate the Heads on a Stick without all that extraneous music.

A better view of Clapton's reaction is seen in this bootleg footage. Clapton takes his final bow, then begins to leave the stage. He lowers his head, laughs, pauses momentarily and then continues his exit. It is too bad that we are not visible because he is clearly reacting to our Heads on a Stick:

I arrive at the stage with
my Heads on a Stick

Then my girlfriend arrives

Clapton reacts in
the bootleg video

At the end of Cocaine, Clapton a similar reaction. He lowered his head and shook his head no. It was almost like he was saying "Oh, for the love of God and all that is holy, it's them again." But then, he turned toward Winwood, tapped him on the arm and pointed to us. A good laugh was had by all. Unfortunately, the bootleg video cuts away from Clapton at the crucial moment and therefore does not meet the high standards for inclusion on this website.

Schottenstein Center, Columbus, OH, June 15, 2009

Sam and I were in the sixth row for this concert. The Heads on a Stick can be seen 15 seconds into a YouTube clip of "After Midnight."

By pure coincidence, Sam was reading Clapton's autobiography the evening before the show. He realized that the concert would be on Julie's 8th birthday. So, he created a sign decorated with Heads on a Stick. Clapton responded with a thumbs up. In addition to the pictures below, our friend Lisa captured the thumbs up in a YouTube clip of the end of the show.

Sam's Happy B-Day Poster

Winwood and Clapton
react to Sam's poster

Pepsi Center, Denver CO, June 21, 2009

We were on the front row for this show. An email I sent to friends after the concert stated: "The Heads were definitely noticed by Steve, Abe and Michelle during the show. At the end of the show, EC laughed, shook his head and then actually waved to my girlfriend! She shrugged her shoulders and turned her eyes toward me as if to say "This guy drags me everywhere and I have to do this." Another smile from EC.

Rita has also come up with another Heads on a Stick innovation. Fearing that we would be at the concert too early with nothing to do, she brought a book and a clip-on book light with a goose-neck extension. After "Georgia On My Mind," she clipped the booklight onto the Winwood Head on a Stick to be sure he saw it!"

Here are two pictures from the end of the show, taken seconds apart, just before and just after he waved:

Clapton grinning sheepishly
at the Heads on a Stick

Two seconds later
after the wave

And now for something completely different...

Read: You'll Be The Head Of The Class
Before EC noticed the Heads on a Stick, I had a page debating whether or not he liked them. After all, Lee Dickson told someone that Clapton hated those f@#% Heads. But I think it was Lee Dickson who hated the Heads. And fans. I think we have learned from the above encounters that Clapton is both amused and embarassed by the Heads. But there is still one part of the previous page that I like.

This famous photograph provides proof that Eric Clapton is secretly a long-time fan of the Eric Clapton Head On A Stick. This, of course, is the famous "Beano" photograph of John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. Have you ever looked closely at the comic Eric is reading? It's hard to see on the CD. So, like a Bible scholar consulting the original Hebrew text, I went back to the original album. Imagine my surprise...

An Interesting Head-Line