Every year that Eric Clapton's birthday comes around, I take off my hat and pause to quietly wish him a happy birthday as if he were standing here.  He is one of the few rock stars that I do some kind of acknowledgement for once per year.  "Slowhand" ... "God" ... "EC" ... he's 71 today and probably playing a blues riff somewhere right now.

Some tidbits ... His depression began at the age of 9.  He was raised by his grandparents and believed his mother was actually his sister for 9 years before learning the truth when she came home from

Central Press, Getty Images

Canada with another son.  Wouldn't that depress you?  He had a 3-year addiction to heroin, followed by a 15 year addiction to alcohol, but now he's been sober for about 30 years after completing the "12-step" program back in the 80's.  Even after getting divorced from the love of his life, Pattie Boyd Harrison, and the accidental death of his son Conor 2 years later, he's stayed substance-free.  That's a strength he just didn't have in the 70's and 80's.

So even though he's no longer touring, he's still likely to show up when you least expect it and strap on a guitar.  I hope I can see every one of those times somehow, someway.  Happy Birthday to Rock's "great one", Eric Patrick Clapton!