Fellow Musicians Perplexed by Clapton's Hard Turn

Robert Cray, for example, has cut ties over Clapton's stance against COVID lockdowns
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2021 12:54 PM CST
Fellow Musicians Perplexed by Clapton's Hard Turn
Eric Clapton performs at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2010.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

Eric Clapton has emerged as a loud voice opposed to COVID lockdowns and vaccine mandates, along with fellow music legend Van Morrison. As a result, he's attracted a ton of criticism, prompting a lengthy Washington Post story by Geoff Edgers on the subject headlined, "What happened to Eric Clapton?" Just don't expect definitive answers. The piece interviews others in the music industry who say they're perplexed that Clapton, who has generally eschewed politics in his music, has suddenly taken such a public stand.

  • Robert Cray: The blues musician has collaborated with Clapton for years, but he's cut ties after Clapton likened lockdowns to slavery in song. Cray says he reached out to Clapton, but his explanations didn't satisfy Cray. "I'd just rather not associate with somebody who's on the extreme and being so selfish," Cray notes.

  • A producer: "I've talked to other musicians, old friends of mine, these great players who, you know, will remain nameless in our conversation, who say, 'What the f--- is he doing?'" says producer Russ Titelman, who worked with Clapton on the classic Unplugged album, as well as the new The Lady in the Balcony: Lockdown Sessions.
  • In defense: Clapton is vaccinated himself, but he says he had debilitating side effects for a while. Singer Bonnie Bramlett defends his response. "He can't feel his freakin' hands anymore and he doesn't want that to happen to anyone else," she says. "And why is everybody all freaked out about it? I think he's a hero for it." The story also talks to musicians who say, at 76, Clapton is recoiling at lockdowns that prevent him from playing, because he knows he may not have a lot of time left as a concert performer.
  • No comment: Clapton declined to be interviewed for the story, and business manager Michael Eaton said that "given the depressingly bad standard of journalism reflected in certain recent articles," Clapton is avoiding the press.
  • Odd factoid: The story notes that Clapton got his COVID vaccination despite having a lifelong fear of needles. "As a heroin addict in the early 1970s, he would only snort the drug," writes Edgers.
(Rolling Stone published a scathing profile of Clapton last month focusing on racist comments he made decades ago onstage.)

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