Eric Clapton was inspired by Bob Dylan to create his own artwork for his new Christmas album.
The guitar great wasn't planning on coming up with a holiday release when he started recording festive tunes, but he quickly realized he had enough for an album – and now he's joined the festive release rush with Happy Xmas.
The album's cover features a scribble self-portrait of Eric dressed as Santa and the rocker reveals he came up with the drawing in a hotel room after being inspired by Dylan's sleeve painting for The Band's Music From Big Pink in 1968.
"This is such great art," Clapton says. "We know now that Dylan is a fantastic artist, a great painter and sculptor. And I was inspired by that to do this, and I did it on a piece of hotel stationery."
Eric admits he had no intention of recording a Christmas album when he first started work on a new project earlier this year.
"Before this became a Christmas album there was still an intention of doing a straight, normal studio album, with no deadline," he explains. "We were working on something that had no real shape; we'd just collate material until we had enough to put out and album. And then it started to morph into the Christmas theme."
The album features a tribute to tragic Swedish dance music star Avicii – a house version of Jingle Bells, subtitled 'In Memory of Avicii'.
"I wanted a house track and I was inspired by Avicii," the guitarist adds. "It's terrible that he would die so young… That makes me worry about the current generation of musicians. They're gonna get swept away with different substances or lifestyles, with no real guidance."
The DJ and producer took his own life at the age of 28 earlier this year.