Rita Coolidge Claims Uncredited Co-Write on Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’
The Derek and the Dominos hit "Layla" is a rock classic and one of the crown jewels of Eric Clapton's career — and there may be more to the story behind how it was written than the world was previously led to believe.
In her soon-to-be-published memoir Delta Lady, singer Rita Coolidge claims she had a significant hand in writing part of "Layla," but was never credited for her work, even after confronting Clapton's manager Robert Stigwood. Instead, she watched the song turn into a massive hit, missing out on publishing royalties that were instead split between Clapton and co-writer Jim Gordon.
In an excerpt published by the Miami Herald, Coolidge recounts how she and Gordon, who were dating at the time, collaborated on a song they called "Time (Don't Let the World Get in Our Way)," which they later played for Clapton. "I remember clearly sitting at the piano at Olympic Studios while Eric listened to me play it all the way through," she wrote. "Jim and I left a taped cassette of the demo with Eric, hoping of course, that he might cover it. Nothing came of it and I largely forgot about it."
As Coolidge tells it, she received a painful reminder of the experience the first time she listened to "Layla" on the radio — and heard her composition in the song's piano coda. "I was infuriated," she recalled. "What they had clearly done was take the song Jim and I had written, jettisoned the lyrics and tacked it to the end of Eric’s song. It was almost the same as the arrangement."
Rebuffed by Stigwood after demanding credit, Coolidge evidently felt she was out of options, and never ended up receiving a co-write — or the massive publishing windfall she would have been due as one third of the team behind a huge hit song. Admitting the experience has haunted her ever since, she wrote, "There was no way Jim could have forgotten we’d written the song together. And, frankly, I don’t think Eric could have either."
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