Once upon a time, the idea of an artist doing a residency seemed like the sort of thing that only happened in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, and it always seemed to be limited to legends of the easy-listening circuit. These days, however, the stigma is gone, and one of the artists who played it a big part in that shift was Eric Clapton.
Picture it: London, England. It’s January 1990, and Clapton is kicking off a run of 18 nights of shows at the Royal Albert Hall. This is a record-breaking series of concerts, but the record it’s breaking is Clapton’s own, having set the previous record the year before with a dozen shows. The following year, he would break it yet again with 24 nights of shows starting on Feb. 5, 1991, and as you might’ve already guessed from that number of nights, it was indeed this particular series of concerts which inspired the title of his 1991 live album, 24 Nights.
READ MORE: February 1993: Eric Clapton's Grammy Gold
For the 1991 shows, Clapton’s performances were split into four different ensembles: he did six nights with a four-piece band; six nights with a nine-piece band; six nights with a blues band featuring guest performers Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, and Robert Cray; and six nights with the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.
Why didn’t he release an album called 18 Nights in 1990? Well, it’s never officially been confirmed, at least to our knowledge, but it was reportedly because he wasn’t happy with the recordings of the 1990 shows. In 1991, however, five of the 24 shows were recorded, giving Clapton more to choose from. That said, he did ultimately include some performances from the 1990 shows on 24 Nights, so it gets a little confusing. It’s probably best if you just focus on the music.
Given that it’s a live album, 24 Nights did remarkably well on the charts, climbing to No. 38 on the Billboard 200 and to No. 17 on the U.K. albums chart, going gold on both sides of the pond. Where it really shined commercially, however, was on the Billboard Top Music Videos chart, where a video of highlights from the sets made it all the way to No. 5.