Eric Clapton has long been a proponent and collector of street art. In March 2001, he appeared on stage at the Royal Albert Hall with a Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster vividly painted in the graffiti-style. This guitar is known as the Crashocaster or Crash 1. The well-known American graffiti artist, John ‘Crash’ Matos, painted the alder body for Eric Clapton as a gift. Crashocaster was Eric’s main working guitar from that date through the 2004 World Tour.
During the Japan Tour in November and December 2001, Eric Clapton played a second graffiti Stratocaster. Also painted by Crash, it is known as Crash 2. It was seen much less frequently on stage. These – and the other graffiti strats in Eric Clapton’s personal collection – harkened back to his Psychedelic SG (a.k.a. The Fool Guitar) which he played while with Cream in 1967 and 1968.
On 15 March 2004, Eric Clapton introduced Crash 3 at a benefit concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This guitar was specially executed by Crash to be sold at the Eric Clapton & Friends For Crossroads Antigua Auction on 24 June 2004. Clapton played Crash 3 from that date, throughout his European and UK tour, at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, Texas and the beginning dates of his US Tour. He played Crash 3 for the last time on 23 June 2004 in Albany, New York. It sold at auction the following day for $321,100.
In his exclusive interview with Where’s Eric! Magazine in April 2003 (Issue 34), Eric Clapton revealed he had commissioned an entire series of graffiti guitars. All of Eric’s “Graffiti Strats” are Fender custom shop guitars with noiseless single coil pickups and the same circuitry as the Eric Clapton Signature Model. At the time, he owned 10 Fender Stratocasters painted by a variety of graffiti artists including Stash, She 1, Kaws, Next Sky, D’Zine, Daze and Futura. Eric Clapton graciously allowed Where’s Eric! to publish colour photographs of these beautiful instruments in November 2003 in Issue 35.
To date, the only graffiti guitars from his personal collection to be played in public have been Crashocaster and Crash 2. Crash 3 was never intended to be part of Eric’s personal collection as it was created especially for the Christie’s fundraising auction.
In 2019, Eric added to his collection with a new guitar by Crash.