Eric Clapton had already carved out a respectable career for himself before he issued his first solo album in 1970. In his first six years as a recording artist, he appeared on records by the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends (and, shortly after his self-titled debut, Derek and the Dominos).

Since then, he's released nearly two dozen LPs under his own name. And it's been kind of a roller-coaster ride for the guitar hero, with personal and professional setbacks often inspiring his work – from a crippling drug addiction (which kept him out of the spotlight for a number of years) to the death of his young son (which spurred a huge comeback hit).

Through it all, though, he's rarely lost the focus and drive that made him one of the most buzzed-about musicians in the '60s. While recent records may not be fueled by the creative hunger that fed his best work, he's grown into his older years by playing the music that sounds right for him at this stage in his life. If nothing else, Clapton has aged more gracefully than most of his contemporaries.

Still, his solo career is spotty. Only a handful of Eric Clapton albums are on the same level as his classic LPs with the Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominos. As we rank Clapton's solo albums from worst to best, one thing is certain: With as many comebacks as he's had over the years, we're not counting him out. He may still have another classic record in him.

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