You make my point about having lived through the period, for me.
Clapton and the like, and many others too, are what i grew up with and resonate to. I have all the ephemera from the era as reminders. I wouldn't trade them for anyone's mountain of pirated/burned cd's.
Just to throw my thruppeny bit in, the reason I really never 'got' Clapton ( the odd song, sure) above and beyond his contemporaries, nor anyone else for that matter can best be summed up when I watched the Cream reunion gigs at the Albert Hall on telly a couple of years ago.
Jack Bruce came on in leather keks and a paisley shirt and Ginger Baker STILL looks like a alki-tramp in T shirt and jeans. Ok, so far so possibly a bit silly. But, bless their hearts, they were LIVING it for themselves and for the crowd. Giving it something! Clapton wanders on and he is the very living epitome of a geography supply teacher. Now you may say he was simply being mature and dignified, and maybe that works for his solo stuff. But he coulda...he coulda....just for once....you know....LET FUCKING GO a bit!
Let's face it, he even called one of his albums 'Journeyman' so points for some kind of self awareness, but I personally find it frustrating to see/hear his talent and think just how far out there he could go if he wanted to but he just doesn't. Smetimes Floyd get me like that too. And yes, yes, yes, perhaps I'm at risk of wanting cliche. And yes, ultimately, it's the music that counts (man!). But, watching and hearing EC perpetually inhabit this MOR hinterland when he could've blazed a trail so bright (perhaps he couldnt?!) is so unrewarding I could never love him as an artist. He bores me. I like lots of AOR stuff and he still bores me because he shouldn't. Not flash enough, not raw enough. He pays the Blues except its The Beiges.