Tony Rich Talks About Trading Favors With Eric Clapton

The Tony Rich Project is back in stores with "Birdseye," an album that offers another dose of the group's acclaimed soul/R&B/funk mix as well as a few other surprises.

Among the unexpected treats on "Birdseye" is the guitar work of Eric Clapton, a friend of Rich's who lends his considerable talents to the album without asking for credit in the album's liner notes.

"We asked him to play some stuff, but the whole ordeal just got so blown out of proportion," Rich told MTV News of his work with the guitar great. "There was some allegations that I had him on the album as some type of promotional stunt, but I don't have to have anyone on my album to promote my album. Me and Eric are friends and I wanted him to play guitar, he wanted be to sing back-up, and we just exchanged favors. There wasn't any money involved. I didn't pay him, he didn't pay me, it was just like that. It was real cool though, but Eric really wanted to be a part of playing some guitar parts, but he didn't

really want to play it up. He just wanted to be one of the musicians like all the other guys that I use. It was cool. It was a good feeling. So we're happy that we did exchange our talents with each other."

Rich and Clapton first met at one of Rich's concerts in London, and the two soon formed a fast friendship. Rich recorded backing vocals for Clapton's "Pilgrim" album, and in addition to getting some guitar work in return, there have been other benefits to his friendship with Clapton.

"He actually hipped Sheryl Crow to my record, so it's cool," Rich said. "I'm just glad that we connected as friends and we were not connected by the labels saying, 'Hey, why don't you guys get together and do something?' You know how labels do that. 'Why don't you guys get together and do something and pay us?'"[1MB QuickTime]

You can sample the fruits of this union on the Tony Rich

Project's "Birdseye" which is in stores now.