Difficulty: Level IIILevel IIILevel III
Length: 13:15
Crossroads Wikipedia pageWikipedia page
Crossroads music videoArtist website
Crossroads music videoMusic video
With our guitar tutorial on Crossroads, you will learn these guitar skills:
  • 12 bar blues
  • Alternate picking
  • Minor pentatonic blues scale
  • String skipping

Crossroads is a great song to get started in playing fast blues. Of course, it'll take a bit of time before you can play it up to speed, but you will play it just like Eric Clapton did in the Cream era thanks to our Crossroads guitar lesson.

Crossroads is a standard 12 bar blues song in the key of A. The lesson starts out by revising what the 12 bar blues actually is and what chords you need to play the 12 bar blues in the key of A.

Afterward, you'll learn the licks Eric Clapton plays over the chords in detail, note-for-note. Learning such riffs really helps you build your plucking technique, as you'll be using alternate picking and string skipping to play the riffs.

Our Crossroads video tutorial will also teach you how to play the fast turnaround lick at the end of the 12 bar progression. Now that lick is fast, so take your time with it, Rome wasn't built in a day. This lick will also give you a great chance to practice your minor pentatonic scale shapes since all of the notes Eric Clapton uses are actually on the 1 box shape of the blues scale.

While learning to play Crossroads, keep in mind that it is a blues song, meaning that you can vary the notes up as you like, that's what Eric Clapton and loads of others (John Mayer) do as well. The blues is all about freedom of expression, about telling others how you feel through your music. This is why I love playing the blues, and I'm sure you will as well. And if you feel like you want to dive into the world of blues guitar even more, have a look at these blues guitar lessons.

Crossroads song details

Crossroads is actually a Robert Johnson song, originally recorded in 1937. The original Robert Johnson version is actually much different than Eric Clapton's arrangement.

Eric Clapton wrote a cover for the song when he played in Cream and recorded it live in 1968 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, and released it on the album Wheels of Fire. The album was very successful and reached top rankings across the world.

Crossroads single awards and chart rankings:

  • Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time: #3
  • Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar Solos: #10
  • Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: #409
  • US Billboard Hot 100: #28

Wheels of Fire album awards and chart rankings:

  • Australia - Kent Music Report: #1
  • Canada - RPM Top 50: #1
  • Norway - VG-lista: #16
  • UK - The Official Charts Company: #3
  • US Billboard 200: #1

If you want to refine the skills you learned in Crossroads, check out these lessons on songs by clicking these links:
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Download tabs for Crossroads

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Download backing track for Crossroads

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