On this day in 1998, Eric Clapton released his 13th studio album, Pilgrim, for Reprise Records.

Before attempting Pilgrim, Clapton said in his 2007 autobiography that he asked his drummer, Steve Gadd, how he would feel “making the saddest record of all time.”

Gadd was into it, and contributes haunting and spare drumming on four tracks (all featured in this post). The album also experiments with drum machines (by Paul Waller and Simon Climie), synthesizers, a full-string orchestra, and percussion on two songs by Luis Jardim.

Clapton’s sadness was based on two pivotal events, the 1985 death of the father he’d never met, and the accidental death of his four-year-old son in 1991, who fell out of a New York apartment high-rise window.

A mix of R&B, blues, pop, and rock dovetail through Pilgrim.

We don’t know if it’s the saddest record ever made, but it’s definitely moving.

“Broken Hearted”

“She’s Gone”

“You Were There”

More Gadd?

Gadd’s Plan: How Steve Gadd Builds Songs and Leads His Bands

Groove Analysis: Steve Gadd with Steve Gadd Band

Steve Gadd On The Mickey Mouse Club (1957)