Bobby Whitlock

Birth name Robert Stanley Whitlock
Born March 18, 1948
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Genres Rock, soul, gospel, blues
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, guitar

Robert Stanley “Bobby” Whitlock (born March 18, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known as a member of the blues-rock band Derek and the Dominos, with Eric Clapton, in 1970–71. Whitlock’s musical career began with Memphis soul acts such as Sam & Dave and Booker T. & the M.G.’s before he joined Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1968. His association with Delaney & Bonnie bandmate Clapton led to Whitlock’s participation in sessions for George Harrison’s 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass, in London, and the formation of Derek and the Dominos that year. On the band’s sole studio album, the critically acclaimed Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Whitlock wrote or co-wrote seven of the album’s fourteen tracks, including “Tell the Truth”, “Anyday” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”

Whitlock recorded four solo albums during the 1970s, among them Bobby Whitlock and Raw Velvet, and contributed to albums by Clapton, John Lennon, Dr John and the Rolling Stones. He then retired from music until releasing It’s About Time in 1999. Following his return, Whitlock has recorded and performed with his wife, CoCo Carmel, and since 2006 with other musicians based in Austin, Texas. Among his and Carmel’s projects, Other Assorted Love Songs, Live from Whitney Chapel contains acoustic interpretations of songs originally recorded by Derek and the Dominos.

In an article for Mojo magazine in May 2011, music journalist Phil Sutcliffe described Whitlock as having been born in Memphis and learning to play the Hammond organ “peering over Booker T’s shoulder at Stax studios”. While still a teenager, Whitlock befriended acts associated with Stax Records, including Albert King, Sam & Dave, the Staples Singers and Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and was the first white artist signed to the label. His first contribution to a recording was in 1967, when he supplied handclaps on Sam & Dave’s single “I Thank You”.

Between 1965 and 1968, Whitlock performed regularly in the Memphis area, playing organ with local soul band the Short Cuts before forming the Counts. In his 2010 autobiography, Whitlock writes of this period in Memphis: “It was a great time and town for music then, especially soul music. It was real rhythm and blues. Albert King R&B, that’s what I’m talking about. It was loose and all about music everywhere that you turned.” With established Stax musicians such as Steve Cropper as his mentor, and Donald “Duck” Dunn and Don Nix preparing to produce a pop album by him on a Stax subsidiary label, Whitlock instead left Memphis after meeting the husband-and-wife team Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Whitlock recalls that he was performing at a club with the Counts when the Bramletts invited him to join a soul-revue band they were forming in Los Angeles.

Whitlock contributed on keyboards and vocals to two Delaney & Bonnie albums in 1969, Home and Accept No Substitute. Their touring band, known as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, included musicians he would continue to work with on projects through to the early 1970s: bassist Carl Radle; drummers Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon; and a horn section comprising Bobby Keys and Jim Price. Another member was Eric Clapton, who joined the Friends as lead guitarist midway through a U.S. tour in July–August 1969. On this tour, Delaney & Bonnie were supporting Clapton’s short-lived supergroup Blind Faith, with Steve Winwood. Clapton later described Whitlock as “without doubt the most energetic sideman I had ever seen”. Along with all the other members of Delaney & Bonnie, Whitlock flew to England in November 1969 to prepare for a highly publicized European tour, financed by Clapton.

In his autobiography, Whitlock states that their arrival in London changed the dynamics within the band, as the Bramletts now considered themselves “big stars” and the ones solely responsible for the new-found success. Once in London, Whitlock participated in a session for a solo album by the American soul singer Doris Troy, on the Beatles’ Apple record label. The album, Doris Troy (1970), was co-produced by George Harrison, who, having championed Delaney & Bonnie in the British press, accepted Clapton’s invitation to join the tour. Through Harrison, Whitlock and the band then played at John Lennon’s “Peace for Christmas” concert, held at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on December 15, 1969.

In early 1970, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends backed Clapton on his debut solo album, Eric Clapton, and toured America with the English guitarist. After arguments with the Bramletts over money, the other Friends quit the band and joined Leon Russell on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Whitlock continued to work with Delaney & Bonnie until April, following sessions for their album To Bonnie from Delaney (1970). On Cropper’s advice, he then returned to England to stay with Clapton at his home, Hurtwood Edge, in Surrey.

In 2010, Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography, written with music historian Marc Roberty, was published, with a foreword by Eric Clapton. Whitlock’s first two solo albums appeared, remastered, as Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: The ABC-Dunhill Recordings, released by Future Day Records in September 2013. In 2015, Bobby Whitlock and Coco Carmel’s “The Just Us Tour 2015” visited the eastern and mid-western United States, using guest guitarists in each city. The tour will end with a performance at The Jass Blues Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Solo albums

Bobby Whitlock (1972)
Raw Velvet (1972)
One of a Kind (1975)
Rock Your Sox Off (1976)
It’s About Time (1999)
Other Assorted Love Songs, Live from Whitney Chapel (2003) – live album, with CoCo Carmel
Lovers (2008) – with Carmel
Lovers: The Master Demos (2009) – with Carmel
Vintage (2009)
My Time (2009)
Metamorphosis (2010) – live album, with Carmel
Esoteric (2012) – with Carmel
Carnival: Live in Austin (2013) – live album, with Carmel
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: The ABC-Dunhill Recordings (2013)

Other notable recordings

Delaney & Bonnie, Home (1969)
Delaney & Bonnie, Accept No Substitute (1969)
Delaney & Bonnie, On Tour with Eric Clapton (1970)
Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton (1970)
Doris Troy, Doris Troy (1970)
Delaney & Bonnie, To Bonnie from Delaney (1970)
George Harrison, All Things Must Pass (1970)
Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
Delaney & Bonnie, Motel Shot (1971)
John Simon, John Simon’s Album (1971)
Dr John, The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971)
Eric Clapton, The History of Eric Clapton (1972)
John and Yoko/Plastic Ono Band, Some Time in New York City (1972)
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. (1972)
Derek and the Dominos, In Concert (1973)

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