Did Journey’s Neal Schon almost replace Duane Allman in Derek and the Dominos?

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At a point when the young Neal Schon felt like he was on the verge of being asked to join Santana, another offer came — this time from Eric Clapton: How about replacing Duane Allman in Derek and the Dominos?

Still a teen, Schon had to turn Clapton down.

“I was not ready to pack up and go move to London, for one,” Schon says in this talk with Uncle Joe Benson. “But also, I had been close with all of the Santana guys. I felt like they were on the verge of asking me (to join Santana), too. They ended up asking me the next day, so I chose to go with Santana.”

Schon says Clapton was in town, playing with the Dominos at a local venue, while Santana was at work in the studio. Schon was still hanging around as a child-prodigy guest of Carlos Santana’s, long before he and fellow Santana band member Gregg Rolie split off to found Journey.

Nevertheless, Clapton invited Schon to sit in with his group, which was then reeling from Allman’s death in a motorcycle accident. “So I went and played, I think, half of a set,” Schon says. “I knew all of his material, so it was a lot of fun.”

Schon says after the show, a clearly impressed Clapton approached him about taking over as the second guitarist in Derek and the Dominos.

“I was kind of blown away,” Schon says. “He wanted me to move to England. I know initially, he wanted Duane Allman, but it was after Duane’s wreck. I was just flabbergasted. I didn’t quite know what to think.”

Schon was a member of Santana from 1971–1972, a period that included the Santana III and Caravanserai projects. Schon and Rolie, who formed Journey in 1973, have both recently reunited with Santana for a new studio effort.

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