As a member of Cream, as a member of The Yardbirds, and as a solo artist.
He's one of the most gifted guitarists of all time, and has a gift when it comes to songwriting. There is a soothing richness to his voice.
His time with both bands was relatively short, especially given the length of his career overall. By the early 70's, he was on his own.
Clapton was friends with, and inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Layla, one of his most famous songs was recorded during the time he was working with band mates in Derek and the Dominoes. That band didn't last long, as it seemed to attract tragedy. Clapton's drug use began to spiral out of control, and by the 80's he was fighting alcoholism as well.
He's always been a bit of a mess personally, with a long sordid history of womanizing. He has cheated on just about every woman he's been with, and pursued Pattie Boyd while she was still married to George Harrison. A good many of his songs reflect his pursuits in this department.
One of his most famous songs, Tears in Heaven, was written as a tribute to his son Conor after his horrific death resulting from a fall from the 53rd floor.
He helped thrust reggae onto the mainstream stage when he covered Marley's I Shot the Sheriff. He's worked with just about everyone in the music world by now. His songs have been featured in many movies and television shows. He just released a jazz collaboration album with Wynton Marsalis, showcasing his musical depth.
There truly are but a handful of artists who are at this level, who will ever be.