Today (February 6th) would have been the late Bob Marley’s 75th birthday. The Eric Clapton song “I Shot the Sheriff” is a Bob Marley song on 461 Ocean Boulevard in 1974 Two music industry legends knew it was a major hit the minute they heard it. And they were right, it made it to # 1.
The late Tom Dowd, who produced Eric Clapton‘s 461 Ocean Boulevard, recalled the session for “I Shot the Sheriff” as happening really fast, with Eric, singer Yvonne Elliman and rhythm guitarist George Terry doing their thing as the tape rolled. What made an even bigger impression on him was the reaction of two legendary executives from Atlantic and RSO Records who were working with Eric at the time. Here is Tom Dowd on recording Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and the reaction of legendary record executives Ahmet Ertegun and Robert Stigwood when he played for them.
“Among the musicians that I had there, somebody played the Marley record and they jumped all over it and they had a good time doing it. And Yvonne [Elliman] picked and George [Terry] sang the harmonies, I mean, we flew the vocal live and the thing just went baloom, like that, it was done. And I remember Ahmet and Robert Stigwood coming down to see how things were going. And I played them “I Shot the Sheriff” and Ahmet’s eyes just lit up, like, you could just see. He says, ‘That’s it,’ and Stigwood says, ‘It’s a hit!’ and the two of them levitated out of the studio.”