Long-time friends and former band mates Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood team up for a once-in-a-lifetime reunion concert in Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden Thursday, May 28 at 8 p.m. (ET) on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances on PBS (check local listings). Presented in 5.1 digital surround sound on PBS HD, the special telecast captures Clapton and Winwood at New York’s Madison Square Garden performing songs from their short-lived Blind Faith collaboration, including “Presence of the Lord,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Well All Right,” along with hits from their respective solo careers.
“I was 15 or 16 and he was 18 or 19, and he definitely looked after me,” Winwood recounts of his blossoming friendship with Clapton, at the top of the telecast. “[We] played records and talked about music. From very early on, he took on a brotherly [role].” As their friendship solidified, Clapton and Winwood – with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Ric Grech – formed Blind Faith. They disbanded in 1969 after releasing only one chart-topping, self-titled album.
The spotlight, however, hasn’t dimmed on either Clapton or Winwood’s careers – Clapton has won 18 Grammy Awards and honored with 3 different inductions into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame; Winwood has won Grammy Awards for record of the year and best male vocal performance for his work on “Higher Love.” As for the decision to play a reunion concert, Clapton wanted to recreate “the romance and beauty of [the music] played in the past” The pair take viewers back to rock’s glory days as they perform songs by Jimi Hendrix (Little Wing), Clapton’s catalogue (Forever Man), and tracks from Winwood’s band Traffic (Pearly Queen) – rounding off the performance with hits from their Blind Faith album– which, for fans old and new, is an evening not to be forgotten.
Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden also features Willie Weeks on bass, Chris Stainton on keyboard, and Ian Thomas on drums.
A production of Parallel 28 Equipe Inc., Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden is directed by Martyn Atkins and produced by John McDermott, James Pluta and Scooter Weintraub; John Beug, Michael Eaton, Peter Jackson and Tom Whalley are executive producers. The special was recorded live in performance at Madison Square Garden in February 2008. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
The telecast marks Clapton’s most recent appearance on Great Performances. In 2004, Great Performances broadcast highlights from Clapton’s three-day guitar festival from Dallas in Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, as well as a follow-up Crossroads Festival concert from Chicago in 2006. Clapton also appeared in the series’ presentation of Cream Reunion Concert (2005) and Concert for George (2003).
The DVD of Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden is distributed by Warner Strategic Marketing.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.