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Clapton’s “Blackie” Stratocaster On Display At Times Square Guitar Center

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Eric Clapton performs on stage during the 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival at Madison Square Garden on April 13, 2013 in New York City.
Eric Clapton
's famous "Blackie" guitar has a new home as of today (August 7).

The black Fender Stratocaster will be housed at Guitar Center's new, 28,000-square-foot flagship store opening in Times Square. The company purchased Blackie at auction in 2004 for $959,540 -- then the highest price ever paid at auction for a guitar (it was passed by a $965,000 bid last December for the Stratocaster Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival).

Clapton used Blackie as his primary guitar from 1970-85, using it on albums such as "461 Ocean Boulevard" and "Slowhand;" the 2004 auction raised money for the Crossroads Center rehabilitation facility he started in Antigua.

...Clapton, meanwhile, is celebrating the No. 2 debut on the Billboard 200 for his latest album "The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale," with 61,000 first-week copies sold. It's Clapton's highest chart showing since "From the Cradle" hit No. 1 a full 20 years ago, and his best first-week sales since "Me and Mr. Johnson" in 2004.

Clapton tells us he's most happy that the set will bring some attention to the unsung Cale, whose "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" are among Clapton's signature songs:

"That was something about his genius is he found these pockets that were indefinable and really difficult to replicate...His voice seemed to come, he could've come from the Mississippi. He had all of that age and wisdom...It's an Americana thing, the whole culture, black and white music all merged into one. With JJ he epitomized that thing how you could have cross-pollination between these genres -- country, rock, blues, jazz -- all mixed up in there."

"The Breeze" features 16 Cale songs -- some of which have never been recorded -- performed by Clapton and all-star guests such as Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson and Derek Trucks