WCSX Classic Cuts
Eric Clapton: "I Shot the Sheriff"
The Hook: Two music industry legends knew it was a major hit the minute they heard it.
Album: 461 Ocean Boulevard
Writer: Bob Marley
Stats: Topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Background: The late Tom Dowd, who produced Eric Clapton's 461 Ocean Boulevard, recalled the session for "I Shot the Sheriff" as happening really fast, with Eric, singer Yvonne Elliman and rhythm guitarist George Terry doing their thing as the tape rolled. What made an even bigger impression on him was the reaction of two legendary executives from Atlantic and RSO Records who were working with Eric at the time.
Producer Tom Dowd on recording Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and the reaction of legendary record executives Ahmet Ertegun and Robert Stigwood when he played for them. OC:…the studio. :28
“Among the musicians that I had there, somebody played the Marley record and they jumped all over it and they had a good time doing it. And Yvonne [Elliman] picked and George [Terry] sang the harmonies, I mean, we flew the vocal live and the thing just went baloom, like that, it was done. And I remember Ahmet and Robert Stigwood coming down to see how things were going. And I played them “I Shot the Sheriff” and Ahmet’s eyes just lit up, like, you could just see. He says, ‘That’s it,’ and Stigwood says, ‘It’s a hit!’ and the two of them levitated out of the studio.”
LYRICS I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy. I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy. All around in my home town They're trying to track me down. They say they want to bring me in guilty For the killing of a deputy, For the life of a deputy.