"Up until I heard his music, everything I had ever heard seemed as if it was dressed up for a shop window somewhere, so that when I heard him for the first time, it was like he was singing only for himself, and now and then, maybe God," Clapton said at Friday's Billboard.com.
"At first, it scared me in its intensity, and I could only take it in small doses. Then I would build up strength and take a little more, but I could never really get away from it, and in the end, it spoiled me for everything else," Clapton said.
"Me and Mr. Johnson," released by Duck/Reprise, is a 14-track set that includes Johnson staples such as "Traveling Riverside Blues," "Love in Vain" and "Stop Breakin' Down Blues."
Clapton, who has recorded Johnson's songs on previous albums, named his 1988 boxed set "Crossroads" for the Johnson standard Clapton recorded with Cream.
"Me and Mr. Johnson" is Clapton's first studio album since 2001's "Reptile."