Eric Clapton has reunited with his late-’70s producer Glyn Johns for his new album, Still I Do, which is out today (May 20th). The collection — which is Clapton’s 23rd solo studio set — marks first time the pair has worked together since 1978’s Backless. In addition to his work with Clapton on Backless and the 1977 triple platinum Slowhand collection, Glyn Johns will forever be known for his legendary work behind the boards for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, the Faces, the Eagles, and many more. In addition to several newly penned Clapton songs, Still I Do features Clapton tackling Bob Dylan’s 1967 John Wesley Harding classic, “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.” Among the key players on the album are such longtime Clapton sidemen as keyboardists Chris Stainton and Paul Carrack, guitarist Andy Fairweather-Low, and drummer Henry Spinetti — along with a rumored secret appearance somewhere on the album by George Harrison.
Clapton recalled to Rolling Stone what it was like having Johns produce the ’77 Slowhand album, which featured such instant classics as “Cocaine,” “Wonderful Tonight,” “The Core,” and “Lay Down Sally,” among others: “It was a haven, a sanctuary. The music counterbalanced the difficulty in my personal life. The strength of Slowhand was in the people playing together — (bassist) Carl Radle, (keyboardist) Dickie Sims, and (drummer) Jamie Oldaker. That unit was on fire. That was the power of Slowhand. And it was Glyn seeing that energy in the room and harnessing it, making it work as a recording session. . . I saw him go after people who were screwing around. I suppose he cut me some slack because he could see that whatever he said, it wasn’t going to make any difference. I was under the influence. But I always did my best for him.”
Clapton went on to reveal how he and Johns reconnected for Still I Do, explaining, “He put out a book (2014’s Sound Man). He asked me to read it, maybe offer a quote to promote it — because I’m in it. And he’s not very flattering. We had some fairly unpleasant skirmishes early on, when I was really bang at it. Later on, we did some work together for Ronnie Lane and Pete Townshend, an album called Rough Mix. Glyn changed his opinion. He thought I was more conscientious working for other people. . . All of this was in the book. And part of the thing — in the book, he also said he hadn’t see me in a long time and wasn’t sure if we were still friends. I called him, we went out for a meal and I said, ‘Let’s do something.'”
Glyn Johns is almost as renown for his will of steel as he is for his incredible ears. Over the years, he’s quit major projects with Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, the Who — and the band whose sound he helped create — the Rolling Stones.
Despite racking up a sole production credit for the Stones’ 1970 live collection, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out — Glyn Johns knew by the dawn of the 1970’s that it was time for him to part company with the Rolling Stones: “To be honest, the reason why I stopped working with the Stones was really quite simple. They were taking an enormous amount of time to make any given record. I, by that time, had already started producing other people and (the Stones) never saw me — and I understand completely, and I understood at the time — they never saw me as a producer. I’d been their engineer all those years and even when I had successful productions, with some very big artists, they still never viewed me as a producer, and I’m sure they wouldn’t (laughs) this afternoon (laughs)! I wanted to kick on and do my own thing, rather than be their engineer any more; I’d had enough, really”
Photo Courtesy of WEA