Bobby Whitlock was raised in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing on sessions at the legendary Stax Studios. He holds the distinction of being the first white artist signed to the Stax / Volt label. He is probably best known as a member of Derek & The Dominos, with Eric Clapton.
Delaney & Bonnie asked Bobby to join their band after seeing him in a Memphis club. He met Eric when Delaney & Bonnie & Friends opened for Blind Faith on their American Tour. He and other members of the Friends played on Eric’s first solo album.
After the Friends split, Bobby became part of Eric’s new band, Derek & The Dominos. Before recording their own album, the band played on sessions for George Harrison’s album, All Things Must Pass. He co-wrote several songs with Eric that appear on the classic album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. On the album, he is featured on vocals (most notably “Thorn Tree In The Garden”) and played organ, piano and acoustic guitar.
Backed by the rest of the Dominos, George Harrison, and Bobby Keys prior to the ill-fated sessions for The Dominos’ second album, he recorded his first solo album, Bobby Whitlock. It was followed by three more, including Raw Velvet , which featured Duane Allman on one track.
After his 1976 album, Rock Your Sox Off, Bobby was inactive in the music industry until 1999. In that year, he released an album entitled, It’s About Time.
In 2001, he appeared with Eric in a guest slot on Jools Holland’s UK TV show, Later With Jools Holland. He released another solo album in 2001 and has been performing occasional gigs in the US.
In an April 2006 interview with The Tennessean, Bobby spoke of finally finishing a song he began writing with Eric in 1971: “That day, my wife and I watched a program about Dr. Phil. Phil said we should all take a day where we don’t expect anything of ourselves. I told (wife and musical collaborator) CoCo, I’m going to have myself a Dr. Phil day. I sat down at the piano and this song poured out like water pouring off of a rock.” The song was “Dear Veronica”, one that Bobby and Eric had worked on in May 1971 while working on the Domino’s second album. At the time, Eric wanted to write a song about Hollywood actress Veronica Lake. Bobby continued. “I have carried the seed of that song around all these years. When I sat down at the piano, the complete song came out. I sent it to Eric to get his approval, and he said, ‘I’d forgotten about that song. Congratulations.’ So I started out the year with a brand new Bobby Whitlock / Eric Clapton song.”
Bobby’s autobiography, Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Autobiography, was published in early 2011 by McFarland.