Eric Clapton - Friend or Foe?

I am told that the whole “Rock Against Racism” movement was inspired by Clapton’s racists rants* at gigs (he didn’t hold back, full on Enoch Powell stuff).
SO I guess there’s that to thank him for…

* always makes me think of “Pink”'s rant on The Wall.

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I think it’s difficult, if not impossible, for most observers/consumers of art to truly separate art from artist until the artist is long gone, to the point of being an historical figure. Does anyone alive and collecting art (or even just admiring it) really care that Picasso was a misanthrope?

Perhaps by the time Clapton reaches that point, his personality won’t matter. That’s assuming his musical legacy is great enough to survive. If it isn’t, sooner or later he’ll join the historical ranks of the third-chair alto player in Duke Ellington’s orchestra, whoever that was. I exaggerate for effect, but I’m sure musical history is littered with performers who were the rage in their day, but about whom we’ve never heard today.

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I think Clapton was a monster player of his time but not a major innovator in guitar playing, as is seen in how easily Hendrix appeared on the scene and outstripped him in exploratory playing.

My favorite Clapton is the live “Just One Night” recorded at the end of '79 with Albert Lee also in the quintet. Just straight-forward confident playing. His work around this time really educated me on aspects of playing the Fender Stratocaster and its sonic capabilities I had never heard presented before.

I really don’t care about his political and medical opinions at this time. I have in-laws and neighbors even more vocal and close-minded to contend with. One thing I’d thank Clapton for is support of J.J. Cale. That guy was a very intriguing player, technician and writer.


And that may be the ultimate test of his legacy - did he do anything that could be said to influence the following generations?

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Well he probably influenced many to pick up the guitar, which is no mean feat. And he served as a role model to many aspiring rock guitar gods no doubt. Perhaps not the type of legacy he would wish for, but he’ll have a legacy of a sort for a time I would suspect. I think it depends on how 'sixties and 'seventies rock is viewed overall. I loved a lot of it for quite some time, but other genres gripped me in fascination and have eclipsed rock in attention and admiration for me.

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There’s definitely something to be said for that - I’m sure there are countless guitarists out there who are playing because of him, and want to be just like him. But beyond copying, has he influenced any of them to take what he did and expand on it? To pick up the ball and advance it, if I may use a sports metaphor. I don’t follow current rock closely enough to say whether that’s happened or not, but that’s the kind of influence that seems to me to be at the core of lasting legacy.

I can’t say with any certainty about individuals. I just haven’t been following rock really for four decades or so. In general I think his forceful times with Mayall and Yardbirds and Cream were strongly influential on many bands and individuals exploring and perhaps innovating in the blues-rock field. Some of these may well have incorporated his style and approach and contributed aspects beyond that. But I’m not informed enough to make such judgment.

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This entire thread should be deleted. It’s an obvious attempt by the original poster to stir up controversy, about that which we’ve been told to avoid discussing on this fourm.

Eric Clapton - Friend or for?? He’s neither. I doubt anyone here knows him personally. He’s a musician, with some good and perhaps not so great releases.

Gary, my intent was not to stir up a controversy, but to point out an observation that Rolling Stone noted a decline in Mr Clapton’s abilities, (overstated as they may be). A second aspect is that our perception of performers shifts to a certain degree… Derek and the Dominoes, I loved it initially, and still do. The funny thing is I really dug the guitar playing, then a friend pointed out that it was Duane Allman I was digging. To this day Duane’s guitar work is what pleases me most regarding Derek and the Dominoes, that and the album title/artwork. Keeping the conversation focused on Clapton’s artistic capabilities should in no way be controversial and one’s opinion of same.

What a shocker that an NBC “news” article would go after a public figure that wasn’t toeing the left-wing line, and try to toss their entire life and career into a dumpster… :thinking: I mean…everybody knows that NBC, and most other “news” sources are totally non-political, and have no agenda that they try to push…just report facts… :roll_eyes:

He’s a rockstar…nothing more, nothing less. He’s not a role model, any more than any other rockstar (or the modern equivalent) should be considered a role model. If you have children, and you encourage them to look up to rock stars for life guidance, you probably deserve what happens next… :rofl: :rofl:

As far as the “imitator” label…so what. Every artist has their influences and personal styles that they try to emulate. I could care less that some of his catalog includes covers of songs written or recorded by lesser known artists. So is every Blues guitarist simply a fraud, since they didn’t invent Blues guitar…? :thinking:

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My apologies if that wasn’t your intent. Your subject line kinda threw me.

Point is those he stepped on to get there. He is not alone in this matter. A blues player’s strength is in their ability to tell their story musically. In Clapton’s case his efforts are no more than Cultural Appropriation. Eric is by no means alone in this aspect, the early Rolling Stones come to mind.
BTW, some blues players actually did design and make their own instruments, simple as they were. They had no choice as the means to purchase instrument was not available to them.

I do think we all benefit by not trying to turn an article into a controversy, and focus on the artistic merits of the performer.

Yeah, I used the subject line to draw forum members to the topic. My bad. In my mind when I posted it it was Musical Friend or Foe and delivery there-of, as in his capabilities, dilution of his musical message and ultimately his consequential reach for the brass ring. No doubt Eric had significant impact on younger listeners and emerging musicians. His success played out to the advantage of local music stores, record shops, and Fender/Gibson guitars. A similar argument could be made for say Neil Young or Joni Mitchell. Neither of which slid as much as Eric. In Neil’s case his remaking in the form of Rust Never Sleeps shows his recognition of the need to change. With Joni it was her embrace and inclusion of jazz sensibilities.

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Yeah…it was probably Clapton’s combination of mediocre technical skills, and lack of artistic originality that made him such a commercial failure…

Intent understood. But when a post points to an article that devolves within four paragraphs into a rather vicious attack on EC’s personal politics, what did you expect from the community? I must agree it reads like a late career hit piece to rip apart the legacy of an artist recently expressing views a major media outlet takes political exception to. Where was this scathing rebuke five years ago? What triggered it? I’d say it’s pretty obvious.



I must’ve missed the linked article. Didn’t see it in the original post.

To be clear, I do not like politics, and I firmly believe, as the lyrics in one of Sting’s songs say: There is no political solution. Real change only happens on a deeper level, when the hearts and minds of people evolve.

I am a truth seeker, first and foremost, which requires an unbiased approach, and a willingness and dedication to dig deeper and look beyond prevailing thoughts and agendas, and allow the truth to reveal itself.

I will leave it at this, things are not what they appear to be. Question everything.

I never thought Eric Clapton was great… his playing never did anything for me… never moved me. Duane Allman absolutely did.

I just never cared for his playing. I never understood why he was so revered. (I am not saying he is not great, just not for me.)

By the way, as a teenager in the 70’s from a small blue collar town, we had access to blues all the time. I don’t get the comments. We always had a cool record store that had the black blues greats and while our local crap radio didn’t play this stuff (not racism, just a small market), I knew older kids who owned it. I was very aware. I don’t get this point.

Bruce in Philly


Clapton’s style was melodic and unique of the time. He was not a “shredder”. Guitar god pyrotechnics fans had to look elsewhere.
Les Paul explained Clapton’s style best when he said that Clapton’s solos always “told a story”.
Many of his lines were very horn-like and so was his tone, which was unlike anyone else at the time.
He often left empty spaces which turned some people off, but in my opinion, made his solos more interesting. And his use of double stops were unique and creative.
All that said, I agree with weedee that when Eric shot the sheriff, I stopped listening.


We have discussed Clapton in the past. At that time I opined he has phoned in his solos and other playing for years now. The article is of no surprise to me.

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