Eric Clapton

I Shot the Sheriff

Song Review by

Somehow the same people who became irate at Ice-T’s ”Cop Killer” didn’t seem to mind when Eric Clapton sang about killing law enforcement officers. Of course, there were more than a couple of decades between the two recordings, but the irony is still interesting. ”I Shot the Sheriff” was a career saver for Clapton his first big solo hit and his first #1 hit of any kind. Long a critical favorite, Clapton was now a commercial favorite, too, and all the more impressively doing so with music that satisfied both audiences. At a time when Bob Marley’s reggae purity was still too unconventional for mainstream airplay, Clapton made the new music style accessible to a wider audience. It was also the first time Clapton had a hit on what Billboard then called the “Black Singles Chart.” The impact of the song was enormous, not only in revitalizing Clapton, but in bringing the then not-so-widely-known Marley to a larger audience. First released on the landmark 461 Ocean Blvd. album, "I Shot the Sheriff" has proven to be enduringly popular, and is one of those cross-cultural, cross-generational classics that nearly all rock music fans are familiar with.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
461 Ocean Boulevard 1974 Polydor / Polygram 4:25
No Image 1974
Various Artists
Incentive
Slowhand 1977 Polydor / Polygram 0:00
Time Pieces: The Best of Eric Clapton 1982 Polydor 4:23
Backtrackin' 1984 Polygram 4:26
No Image 1984 RSO
The Cream of Eric Clapton 1987 Polydor 4:24
Crossroads 1988 Polydor 7:49
No Image 1990 Polydor
No Image 1990
Various Artists
Capitol 0:00
Sounds of the Seventies: 1974 1990
Various Artists
3:34
Wonderful Tonight 1991 Polydor
Baby Boomer Classics: Rockin' Seventies 1995
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 4:23
The Cream of Clapton 1995 Polydor / Chronicles 4:24
Flashback!: Rock Classics of the '70s 1995
Various Artists
Realm Records 4:23
No Image 1997 Polydor
The Ultimate Rock Collection Gold and Platinum, Vol. 3: 1974-1979 1997
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:33
Double Up: Timepieces/Timepieces, Vol. 2 1998 DJ Specialist 4:24
Pure Reggae 1998
Various Artists
Polygram / Island 4:22
Singers & Songwriters: 1974-1975 [1999] 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:26
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of the '70s 2000
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:24
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Realm Records 4:23
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Virgin Import] 2001
Various Artists
Virgin 4:25
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Eric Clapton 2004 Polydor 4:26
Chronicles: 461 Ocean Boulevard/There's One in Every Crowd/E.C. Was Here 2005 Polydor 4:25
Legends: We Will Rock You 2006
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:25
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:25
Complete Clapton 2007 Warner Bros. / Reprise 4:22
Singers & Songwriters [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:26
Icon 2011 Polydor 4:24
Icon 2 2011 Polydor 4:24
Singers & Songwriters: 1974-1975 2012
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:26
Give Me Strength: The '74/'75 Studio Recordings 2013 Polydor / Universal 4:27
Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2018
Original Soundtrack
Universal 6:50
No Image Extremely Rare