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Eric Clapton Joins Joe Bonamassa Onstage in London

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Joe Bonamassa, the American DIY guitar whiz who has been voted “Best Blues Guitarist" by Guitar Player magazine three years in a row, was still buzzing the day after playing with Eric Clapton at London's Royal Albert Hall.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime for me," Bonamassa told Billboard.com from the studio where he was watching footage of the concert, which was filmed for a DVD release in the fall. “I find that the higher you go up the ladder sometimes, the more humble and nice people are. That's truly the case of Eric Clapton; he's my hero and the reason I play the way I play, just basically one of those guys who plus the guitar straight into an amp and it sounds like him."

Clapton's guest spot at the Monday night concert -- which also featured former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones, now a BBC disc jockey, on “Your Funeral, My Trial" -- came after Bonamassa wrote him a letter that was delivered by a mutual friend. “We'd met a couple of times before," Bonamassa said, “and invited him to come and sit in with me. He wrote back and said, 'I'd love to come.' I was really surprised he agreed; he's got his own run of shows (starting May 11 in Dublin) and was busy in rehearsals. A lot of time when you're rehearsing and everything, the last thing you want to do is go sing some more and play some more, but it was really nice of him to come and do. It meant the world to me."

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