Eric Clapton experienced heartbreak and tragedy as the 1990s entered. The 1990 helicopter crash that killed his friend and fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan also took the lives of Clapton’s manager and two other people. Just a few months later, Clapton lost his four-year-old son Conor when the toddler fell from the window of the 53rd-floor New York apartment where they were living. Clapton felt the need to isolate himself for a time for the sake of his emotional health. When he was ready to rejoin the living world, he began work on the soundtrack to the movie “Rush” for which he co-wrote the song “Tears in Heaven” with songwriter Will Jennings. Clapton has said that music was a tremendous source of healing, joy, and pleasure for him. After the death of his son, Clapton has become an advocate of childproofing household hazards.
Eric Clapton, who has had a storied career as a giant and pioneer of rock since the 1960s, had an unexpected hit with the soft, understated ballad “Tears in Heaven.” It is his best-selling single in North America and among the most successful singles of all time. Shortly after its release, he recorded a live acoustic version as part of the MTV Unplugged series, which was also a big hit.
"Love of My Life" by Queen
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer, and mastermind behind the acclaimed British rock band, Queen, wrote the song "Love of My Life" for his ex-fiancée and best friend, Mary Austin. It debuted on the band's famed studio album, "A Night At The Opera." Mercury was 24 when he met Austin, who was 19 at the time. They told interviewers how they instantly felt a connection and soon fell deeply in love. After living together as a couple for 7 years, they separated. Mercury confessed that he was attracted to men, and Austin confirmed that she knew that he was, in fact, gay. Nonetheless, the two remained close-knit, and Mercury even bought Austin an apartment right down the street from his, so they could remain in close proximity to each other. Eventually, Austin moved away, got married, and had 2 children - one of which was Mercury's godson.
Most people found it difficult to understand the nature of their relationship. Mercury once explained, “All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage…We believe in each other. That’s enough for me. I couldn’t fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.” You can catch a glimpse of their complex relationship as depicted in the film 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (2018).
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is a legendary nine-part rock saga written as a tribute to Syd Barrett. Barrett was a founding member of Pink Floyd and was its lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the first few years until he was asked to leave in 1968. But Barrett cast a longer shadow than the remaining band members anticipated, and to exorcise their demons; they created this 25-minute-long masterpiece as a homage to him. Eerily, as they were working on the recording, he wandered into the studio and sat down. His appearance had changed so drastically that none of his former bandmates even recognized him for 45 minutes.
After Barrett's departure from Pink Floyd in 1968, it seemed inconceivable that the band could continue without him. It was simply unprecedented for a band to continue successfully in the absence of its original creative visionary. Amazingly, bass player Roger Waters stepped up and took over the songwriting, sharing lead singing duties with replacement lead guitarist David Gilmour.
“And I Love Her” by The Beatles
Paul McCartney has earned the distinction of being among the finest songwriters of the 20th century, and his love songs have been among his most popular compositions. The first of those to meet with wide acclaim was “And I Love Her,” a song that he claimed to be the first ballad of his that he was proud of. It was inspired by his then-fiancee, Jane Asher. Asher was a photographer and actress who was a significant part of the British cultural scene in the 60s, and the press was in love with the romance between her and Paul. However, it was not to be. Within a year, they had gone their separate ways, and Paul ended up marrying Linda Eastman (McCartney) who was the true love of his life.
“And I Love Her” wasn’t the only Beatles song inspired by Jane Asher. There were many, among which were “We Can Work it Out” and “I’m Looking Through You.” After her split from Paul, she met and wed artist Gerald Scarfe, to whom she’s been married for over forty years now.
“Hearts and Bones” by Paul Simon
The title track of Paul Simon’s 1983 album Hearts and Bones is a tender love song that obviously draws on the singer’s experiences. As it happens, Simon was at the time in the middle of a stormy 1-year marriage to the actress Carrie Fisher. Simon proposed to Fisher at a baseball game. Even though they were only married for a year, they got back together after their divorce and remained together for a few years before separating for good. “Hearts and Bones” exists as a commemoration of their better times together.
Paul Simon was one half of the classic folk duo Simon and Garfunkel, as well as their primary songwriter. After splitting from his musical partner, he forged a tremendously successful solo career. Carrie Fisher, daughter of Hollywood royalty, was an actress best known as Princess Leia in the Star Wars film franchise. She passed away in 2016.