Saturday, 18 December 2021

Eric Clapton and the Impoverished German Widow

 So, Eric Clapton - estimated worth in the hundreds of millions of pounds - has successfully persecuted (sic) a German widow so hard up she was reduced to selling her dead husband's CDs on EBay.  One of which happened to be a copy of a bootleg recording of a concert - even though the widow says it was purchased legally from a music store.

A multi-millionaire suing a widow is very unpleasant, but as the Guardian notes, it is not the only unlikeable thing Clapton has done recently:

Clapton has made headlines in the past 18 months for taking a staunch stance against Covid-19 protective measures such as lockdowns, vaccines and vaccine passports.

He claimed to have experienced a severe physical reaction to his first dose of the AstraZeneca jab, and referred to scientific research – which has found vaccines to be safe and life-saving – as “propaganda”. 

 In December 2020, he collaborated with another noted vaccine sceptic, Van Morrison, on the song Stand and Deliver, which likens adherence to government restrictions to slavery. 

The song prompted the Black blues musician Robert Cray, who was born in segregated Georgia, to withdraw from supporting Clapton on his US summer tour as planned, the Washington Post reported. 

On that tour, Clapton was photographed posing with Texas governor Greg Abbott, who signed into law the country’s most restrictive abortion legislation and a measure to limit who can vote in the state.

I don't have a dog in the fight - I am not a German widow and I am of the opinion most of Clapton's musical output can be described as hateful and unpleasant, but that's subjective.  So let's not worry about the eternal crappy noodlings of Layla and I Shot The Sherriff.

Let's delve deeper into Clapton's personal history here.  I've been reading London Calling by Barry Miles, a history of London's counter-cultural underground.  It isn't quite as good as it should be (tldr: Hippies were good, punks were a bit crap really, there were some painters and artists and everyone drank too much, and Alex Trocchi was perhaps one of the worst human beings to ever exist) but it does include a recommendation from one Boris Johnson on the back ("I devoured this wonderful cultural history" - no you didn't, Boris.)

And it does mention a particularly pleasant episode in the Life And Adventures Of Eric Clapton, a sort of musical Lara Croft (though less buxom and unfortunately real) shamelessly raiding the graves of the Blues legends.  On the 5th of August, 1975, Clapton exhorted a crowd at a concert in Birmingham to vote for racist provocateur Enoch Powell:

Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. I don't want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch's our man. I think Enoch's right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans don't belong here, we don't want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don't want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck's sake? Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!

Just take a moment to read that again and consider, this man has continued to enjoy a career as a revered (by people who like endless guitar wankery) musician.  Whatever your views on 'cancel culture' or separating the artist from the work, you have to admit, Clapton probably deserved just a tad more opprobrium than he received.  This is a man howling racist hate a crowd of thousands - who had come to hear him masturbate his guitar, now expound his political beliefs - and he's never been adequately censured for it.  Nowadays, he'd be shunned by fans, dropped by his record company and find it hard to book venues - and quite right too.

(After manually typing in the quote from the Miles book I discovered I could just have copied it from Wikipedia.  The Wiki version is even longer and more disgusting, so I have done just that.)

Clapton has, as far as I am aware, not apologised for his comments, merely trying to excuse himself by saying he didn't know what came over him and that whatever came out as a "garbled thing."  Eric, it wasn't garbled.  It was pretty clear what you were saying.  You wanted people to vote for Enoch Powell because you wanted foreigners - sorry, wogs - sent 'home.'

Clapton performed at a Nelson Mandela freedom concert (again, per Barry Miles) in 1988.  Jerry Dammers, from The Specials, reminded him of his comments from 1976 and suggested he could use this as an opportunity to balance the books: "You know, this is your chance to formally apologise for what you said."

Clapton declined the chance to show he is a decent human being, telling Uncut magazine, "I thought, "You must be fucking joking."  And I wouldn't do it.  I was so insulted."

Yeah, how insulting, holding someone accountable for their words and actions.

Eric has aligned himself with almost every reactionary political position going, defending the right of the aristocracy to tear foxes to pieces for entertainment, and of people in general (a true democrat!) to spread COVID-19 (on the day I write this, Britain set a new record for cases, almost breaking the 100,000 new cases barriers.  Eric must be proud of our efforts!)

Sadly, Eric's forthright positions have led to people ... not wanting to know him so much.  It's a bit late, and very disappointing it wasn't his unapologetic racism that led to people shunning him, but he is finding it harder to meet up with his old mates and buddies: 

In October, Clapton told a site run by a prominent anti-vax campaigner: “Over the past year, there’s been a lot of disappearing, you know – little dust around with people moving away quite quickly. And it has, for me, refined the kind of friendships I have. And it’s dwindled down to the people that I obviously really need and love.”

Eric, if one person think's you're a dick and cuts you off, maybe it's them that has the problem.  But when lots of people are doing it, maybe its you.

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Real royalty dying off

 Jean Luc Godard and Hilary Mantel within a few days of each other? FFS, 2022.  Juck fuck off already.