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I co-wrote Eric Clapton's Layla, says Rita Coolidge

Rita Coolidge in 1970
Rita Coolidge in 1970 (Image credit: Getty)

Grammy-winner Rita Coolidge has publicly laid claim to the piano section of Eric Clapton classic Layla – and says she was rudely dismissed when she asked to be credited.

The 1971 Derek And The Dominos song is officially listed as having been written by Clapton and Jim Gordon, her then-boyfriend.

She argues that she and Gordon had written a track called Time (Don’t Get In Our Way) the previous year, then played it to Slowhand.

Coolidge says in her memoir Delta Lady (via the Miami Herald): “We played the song for Eric Clapton in England. I remember sitting at the piano in Olympic Studios while Eric listened to me play it. Jim and I left a cassette of the demo, hoping of course that he might cover it.”

She “largely forgot about it” after that – until she heard Layla after she and Gordon had split up. “I was infuriated,” she remembers.

“What they had clearly done was take the song Jim and I had written, jettisoned the lyrics and tacked it to the end of Eric’s song. It was almost the same.”

Coolidge approach Clapton’s manager at the time, Robert Stigwood. But she says she was told: “You’re going to go up against the Robert Stigwood Organisation? Who do you think you are? You’re a girl singer.”

She adds: “There was no way Jim could have forgotten we’d written the song together. And I don’t think Eric could have, either.”

In 2011, Derek And The Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock supported Coolidge’s version of events, saying in an interview: “Jim took the melody from Rita’s song and didn’t give her credit for writing it. Her boyfriend ripped her off. I knew – but nobody would listen to or believe me.”

Gordon has been in prison since murdering his mother in a psychotic incident in 1983. Clapton releases latest album I Still Do in May. Delta Lady is released via HarperCollins on April 7. (opens in new tab)

Martin Kielty

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.