Friday, June 4, 2004

Guitarists gear up for Clapton fest

Eric Clapton will host a three-day festival in Dallas this weekend featuring 60 of the world's top guitarists, including B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Joe Walsh, J.J. Cale, Bo Diddley, James Taylor, Jimmie Vaughan and Vince Gill.

More than two years in the making, the event is "the biggest undertaking we've ever done," said Peter Jackson, Clapton's tour manager since 1978. "It just got bigger and bigger and bigger. It's a celebration of the guitar."

Proceeds go to Crossroads Centre, the nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Clapton founded on the Caribbean island of Antigua, where he maintains a residence.

The festival also offers hands-on guitar clinics, interactive manufacturer exhibits and a display of guitars from the Eric Clapton & Friends personal collections that will be sold at a June 24 Christie's auction benefiting Crossroads.

The Crossroads festival, which will be held at Dallas Fair Park and Cotton Bowl Stadium, coordinates with the start of Clapton's U.S. tour, which begins June 9 in Oklahoma City. He is scheduled to play Nationwide Arena in Columbus July 12.

Clapton, 59, who overcame a drug and alcohol addiction in the 1970s, underwrote the $6.5 million treatment center in 1997 with promises of turning away no one in need.

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