Well, I’m a bit late to the party here, but I have to comment on this since it’s classic rock related. It’s been known for a long time that Eric Clapton isn’t a good person and for many reasons, which I’ll talk about in this blog post. I’m not here to tell you who to listen to or who not to listen to. It’s your choice at the end of the day and music brings joy to people. It’s hard finding out that a musician you admired is not a good person. This doesn’t mean I’ll never talk about Eric Clapton or listen to songs he played on. I still love listening to The Yardbirds, Cream, and Blind Faith. There’s no doubt that he’s talented. I am capable of separating the art from the artist, but as someone who writes a blog and has a platform that talks about music, the responsible thing to do is talk about it. I believe in being as honest as possible about classic rock. It does no one any favours if I ignore all the bad things in classic rock, but it’s also not my style to give lectures all the time on right and wrong. You know what’s right and wrong. I like to assume good faith of people and I don’t think all Eric Clapton fans have Eric Clapton’s values.
It’s the same idea as people who are talking about JK Rowling’s transphobia. I used to love Harry Potter when I was a kid and it would be wrong of me to say it’s not a part of my childhood. It really was! And I’d imagine for a lot of people, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials and Zoomers raised on classic rock, Eric Clapton’s music was a big part of growing up. It was easier for me to give up Harry Potter than classic rock because I love classic rock more than anything and music brings me so much joy and has been my “therapy” so to speak through all the difficult times.
In case you’re out of the loop, and I don’t take anything for granted here on this blog, I’d rather explain everything than assume people know what I’m talking about. Eric Clapton has had a bad reputation since the 70s for being a shitty person, pardon my French. In 1976, he went on a racist rant at a concert in Birmingham where he praised racist MP Enoch Powell, said he wanted to keep Britain white, that Britain is a ‘white country’, and wanted all black and brown people out of the country. Funny, because he plays black American blues music, but has no respect for the people who make it. He was intoxicated and was struggling with addiction. Many people gave him the benefit of the doubt when they heard about the incident. It happened decades earlier and he never went on a rant like that again. He has apologised, but it’s perfectly understandable and reasonable for people of colour to not accept his apology. He said this:
“I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn’t make sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman and I championed black music.”
Semi-racist? I don’t think so, that rant was easily something that could have been said by a member of the BNP or the Ku Klux Klan. And to say “I have black friends?” That old excuse? While yes, race is more than black and white, you can still be anti-black and have black friends. You know that whole thing racists say, “you’re one of the good ones”? As for sabotaging everything? Sounds like he’s just sorry he’s getting backlash.
Even worse, right after the racist incident he was blaming it on alcohol and drugs, and called the incident quite funny. I know plenty of people who like to get drunk and do drugs, but most of them don’t go on racist rants. Cocaine, heroin, and booze don’t make you a racist. Sorry, that’s on you. He didn’t deny it at least, but he didn’t properly apologise. And changed man? Give me a break! Even longtime friend and blues guitarist Robert Cray ended his friendship with him because he compared lockdown to slavery and Cray said he’d never open for Eric Clapton again.
Still, it’s pretty hard to accidentally trip and fall into a pile of white supremacists. Yes, sometimes working class people can get radicalised when they have hardships, but that’s not Eric Clapton. He has everything! He’s wealthy and living the dream. Is racism something that he grew up with? I really can’t answer that because I’m not Eric Clapton, but I am quite suspicious of him that’s for sure.
All of this was known in 1976 and Eric Clapton’s rant is why Rock Against Racism was started.
Second, everyone knows rock stars don’t make the best spouses. Eric Clapton is someone I don’t think you want to be married to. Eric Clapton has admitted to beating his ex-wife Pattie Boyd and even forcing her to have sex (which is rape). Horrible person.
And he has continued to be a bad person. Last year, you may remember he went on an anti-lockdown rampage, with him and Van Morrison performing a song that’s anti-lockdown in a time when we didn’t have vaccines yet and don’t have the treatments we have now for COVID (and even then, they’re not accessible to all because big pharma are all about profit, don’t think I’m letting big pharma off the hook here). I understand being against lockdowns and being against vaccine passports (I don’t support either, but I am extremely pro-vaccine). I think at this point, it’s not feasible. Lockdowns have been disastrous for mental health and you can’t put your life on hold forever. Zero COVID is impossible now. All we can do now is take precautions. Getting vaccinated is one of them. At this point, if you’re in a developed country, you had the opportunity to get vaccinated. Your problem if you choose not to and decide to “fuck around and find out”, just like if you choose not to wear a bike helmet. The song is crap by the way, don’t waste your time. It’s a far cry from Astral Weeks or Disraeli Gears. Depressing how this whole thing has been politicised to be honest, but that’s another rant for another day.
Vegetarians and animal rights supporters won’t be thrilled by his support of fox hunting and his hobbies such as fishing and shooting. Don’t worry guys! Plenty of great vegetarian guitarists like Steve Howe, Jeff Beck, Brian May, and Dave Davies to name a few.
Feminists also have reason to hate him. Here he is with anti-abortion Texas Governor Greg Abbott. “Me and the bestie”?
Lately, he’s spouting anti-vaccine propaganda and using his story about his bad reaction to the vaccine (which I believe, I know there are people who had bad reactions to the vaccine) to spread an agenda, even though he has no medical licence or any training in the field. The vaccines have been proven to be safe and if you take them you won’t end up in hospital if you get COVID, it gives you peace of mind. That’s a good thing. Just funny that Eric Clapton calls himself someone who has always been a rebel, you can’t be a rebel and be a conservative, that’s just not how it works. Conservatives are pro-status quo. Rebels are against the status quo.
And the latest Clapton being CRAPton is him suing a German widow who sold her husband’s bootleg CD of an Eric Clapton concert on eBay for €10, and he won. That’s just the definition of petty and being a bully. He’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars, €10 is peanuts to him and 100 million is a big number, I don’t think an average person could manage to spend that in a lifetime. Reminds me of that Spongebob episode where Mr Krabs sells Spongebob’s soul for just 62 cents. And the poor woman could be fined €250k or get 6 months in prison over basically a victimless crime (you can’t tell me Eric Clapton has been victimised here). This is why copyright law needs to be overhauled. Screw greedy musicians and record companies. Eric Clapton should be ashamed of himself for all these horrible things.
Don’t just take it from me, here’s a great article in The Independent saying that you shouldn’t be surprised Eric Clapton is like this.
Loved this blog post and want to support? If you cannot afford to donate to The Diversity of Classic Rock, there are many free ways to support the blog: Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, click the follow button on my website, leave a nice comment, send your music or classic rock related books for review, or donate your art and writing talents to the blog.
You can also download the Brave Browser and earn tokens that you can donate to your favourite creators (including me!), donate to charity, or you can keep them for yourself and redeem them for cash. The choice is yours! Thank you!
Well said! And even on the musical front, when he left The Bluesbreakers, John Mayall famously said “We got someone [Peter Green] even better” . Harder for me to handle is Van Morrison being a glassbowl.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Absolutely gutted to hear about Van Morrison, but I still love him as a songwriter. He and Phil Lynott… easily two of Ireland’s writing greats up there with all the classic names we know and love.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have read articles about how Eric Clapton isn’t a good person and it’s sad because Richie Sambora said he looked up to him as a player and he did a song with him on Richie’s ‘Stranger in this Town’ album. The song is really good too, it’s a shame Eric turned out to be a jerk.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great post about a not-so-great individual. I’ve noticed that too – Clapton became the poster boy of the anti-vaccine movement. Interestingly, I myself got the AstraZeneca jab (just like him).
Also, thanks to your post — I learned that Clapton and Pattie Boyd didn’t have a picture-perfect relationship. Considering how she divorced George and married Eric!
But if you look at it now, at least things turned out better for George after that — getting married to Olivia and seeing Dhani grow up before passing away in 2003.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you! I agree! George and Olivia were a great couple and I’m sure George was happy to have son like Dhani!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m later to the party replying here, what with the holidays and all. Up front, let me say that I am a blues and blues-rock guitarist and EC is one of my (musical) heroes. Let me also say that you pretty much got it right. Clapton, it turns out, is somewhat of an asshole. It pains me to say that because when you see him in interviews he always comes across as the perfect English gentleman. I’ve known about his racist rant for years but reasoned he was out of his mind on booze and that he had apologized. (Bear in mind that Elvis Costello called Ray Charles a slur a few years later and Bonnie Bramlett slapped him across the face for it. Elvis apologized but no one ever calls him out on it. He mentions the incident in his autobio, never once calling Bonnie out by name. And Ray said, “People say a lot of things when they’re drunk.”)
So I’ve known Clapton was kind of a jerk for years but this vax thing is over-the-top. This is a health thing, not a political thing. And yeah, some people do have bad reactions. That’s the way it goes. Drugs have side effects. Clapton conveniently forgot to mention he has peripheral neuropathy which affects the extremities. A friend of mine, also a guitar player, has it as well. He had to give up drinking due to it. So, gee, maybe the vax hit Eric hard for that reason among many other, ahem, health issues he’s had.
Anyway, this whole thing is heartbreaking for me and a whole world full of Clapton fans. I still very much listen to and play his music as much of it is great. But I won’t be blogging about him any more and I certainly won’t go see him. Pity.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sad to say mum was right, some truths we’ll always wish had not came to us .