Eric Clapton celebrated his 70th birthday March 30, but it was fans who got the presents.
Clapton released a new three-CD, 51-track compilation, "Forever Man" (Reprise), on Tuesday, April 28, featuring a studio disc, a live disc and a blues disc. And he played Madison Square Garden on Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, with his band, which includes keyboardist Paul Carrack, drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Chris Stainton and backing vocalists Sharon White and Michelle John.
Clapton -- the only person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times, as a solo artist and as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream -- has said he is considering retiring soon, at least from touring. "The road has become unbearable," he told Uncut magazine recently. "It's become unapproachable, because it takes so long to get anywhere."
However, Clapton says he does plan to keep recording and playing occasional shows like the ones at the Garden.
It is hoped that "Slowhand" has more great songs in his future, but if not, his career is already beyond legendary. Here's a look at the seven biggest hits of his first seven decades:
I Shot the Sheriff
I Shot the Sheriff (No. 1, 1974). Clapton's version of the Bob Marley classic helped bring reggae into the rock mainstream in America by giving it a more familiar blues-rock twist.
Tears in Heaven
Tears in Heaven (No. 2, 1992). The wrenching ballad -- written after the accidental death of his young son, Conor -- was a rare case of Clapton's vocals taking center stage rather than his guitar playing.
Lay Down Sally
Lay Down Sally (No. 3, 1978). Though the influence is J.J. Cale and country blues, even landing Clapton on the country charts, he still slips in a pretty great rock guitar solo about halfway through.
Change the World
Change the World (No. 5, 1996). One of the biggest adult contemporary hits ever, "Change the World" showed that Clapton, with help from Babyface, could rule the pop charts without guitar pyrotechnics.
Sunshine of Your Love
Sunshine of Your Love (Cream, No. 5, 1968). While Jack Bruce's bass riff may be better known, Clapton's elegant guitar solo gives the song some much-needed complication and balance.
For Your Love
For Your Love (The Yardbirds, No. 6, 1965). When the pop-oriented rocker became a smash, 20-year-old Clapton realized that he was meant to be a bluesman and left the band to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. (Here, Clapton performs with his Blind Faith band mate Steve Winwood.)
White Room (Cream, No. 6, 1968). Clapton took inspiration from Jimi Hendrix for the song's distinctive guitarwork, running the guitar through a wah-wah pedal to make it sound more like a human voice, but the final solo is all Slowhand.