Many of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s are obsessed with music.
In the pre-internet era, radio was our lifeline, and we idolized musicians, eagerly awaited every new release from our favorite bands, and saved our pennies to rush down to the record shop (remember when they were ubiquitous?) to buy them when we could.
Our heroes were the singers and the guitar-slingers who we elevated to an importance far beyond the stature of previous generations of musicians, few of whom would go on to affect society and culture the way that the musicians of the rock era, particularly those around during the restive political times of the Vietnam War, did.
While Beatlemania is the classic example of the worship of musical pop stars at the time, another deified musician of the 60s was the blues guitar wizard Eric Clapton, an Englishman who forged his reputation as a genius guitar player of unusual talent in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek & the Dominos before launching a successful multi-decade career as a solo artist, albeit with music that was somewhat watered down and countrified compared to his initial power trio days.
Clapton, a man who should deserve eternal gratitude for introducing the world at large to the talents of Bob Marley through his 1974 cover of “I Shot the Sheriff,” was so highly regarded by his fans during his early years as a guitar ace that he was legendarily celebrated with graffiti scrawls of “Clapton is God” on walls in London at that time.
While Clapton has had his ups and downs through the years, plagued by periods of drug and alcohol addiction and the death of an infant son, he managed to cement his place in the rock pantheon through the ensuing decades with a series of increasingly less interesting albums and a fairly regular touring schedule.
Fast forward to 2021, the COVID pandemic has kept the aging guitarist off the road for at least a year and a half, and Clapton is pissed.
Now a comfortably rich superstar, rather than the dedicated aspiring bluesman or psychedelic avatar of his youth, Clapton is now displaying the reactionary politics that some people unfortunately slip into in their old age.
He has already publicly announced that he would refuse to play a live show in any venue that requires attendees to show proof of a COVID vaccination, having had an unpleasant reaction to the Astra Zeneca vaccine that he received and which he said had the side effect of temporarily stiffening his limbs and leaving him worried that he never play guitar again.
Apparently, the 76-year-old musician has recovered sufficiently enough to head back into the recording studio, since he released a new song yesterday that many see as a new national anthem for the anti-vax crowd.
Titled, “This Has Gotta Stop,” the song’s lyrics reveal the singer’s fervent displeasure at the government restrictions that the COVID pandemic has required.
“This has gotta stop, enough is enough/ I can’t take this BS any longer/ It’s gone far enough, you wanna claim my soul/ You’ll have to come and break down this door,” Clapton sings.
He continues, later in the song, with this verse:
“I knew that something was going on wrong/ When you started laying down the law/ I can’t move my hands, I break out in sweat/ I wanna cry, I can’t take it anymore,” the musician sings.
While such words might seem apropos when directed at a controlling lover, in the context of a pandemic, they become much more ominous, particularly coming on the heels of his earlier anti-lockdown duet with another fallen musical idol, Van Morrison, on “Stand and Deliver,” where the two sing:
“Stand and deliver/ You let them put the fear on you/ Stand and deliver/ But not a word you heard was true.”
Clapton’s rightward political turn hasn’t come completely out of the blue. He was criticized heavily after his comments in support of the British anti-immigrant politician Enoch Powell at a concert back in 1976 where he lapsed into outright racism by saying:
“Stop Britain from becoming a black colony,” he said. “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 and fucking … 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. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country. What is happening to us, for fuck’s sake?”
That comment, coming from someone who had just earned a boatload of money from Bob Marley’s songwriting, should have ended his career right then, but the public seemingly chalked up the racist rant to Clapton’s drug and alcohol problems at the time and the controversy soon faded into a distant memory for most of his fans.
This latest anti-vax anthem, however, has many of his former fans outraged and swearing that their adulation of the once-talented musician is now over forever, judging from their social media comments.
I'll never listen to or purchase another Eric Clapton song ever again. Who's with me?
— Angela Belcamino (@AngelaBelcamino) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton is anti-mask? How awful. This totally changes my previously high opinion of that openly racist, best friend’s wife-stealing, woman-beater.
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton ‘speaking his mind’ isn’t ‘brave’; it’s racist
— gabby (@gabby_UCMaroon) August 28, 2021
Wish I’d gotten to see Eric Clapton in concert before he turned into Eric Clapton.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) August 28, 2021
Deleting all Eric Clapton songs from my playlist. What a narcissistic jerk.
— A Worried Citizen (@ThePubliusUSA) August 28, 2021
Covid’s greatest musical advocate, Eric Clapton, has just released an anti-vaccine song and video. pic.twitter.com/gihxWwSN4w
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 28, 2021
Bill Maher, Eric Clapton, and James Woods are trending.
Is it asshole day….again?
— lc (@lcatboonies) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton should shut up and dribble.
— John Ales AF (@IAmJohnAles) August 28, 2021
– Louie Gohmert: "I've ingested Ivermectin every day since 1975"
– 62-year-old Paul Gosar still looking for family to adopt him
– Eric Clapton latest tunes don't sound so wonderful tonight
– James Woods tearfully admits he Stephen Miller's dad
– Marxism Googled
— Eric the editor 🇺🇸💙🇺🇸🍻⚽️ (@Editor_of_Eric) August 28, 2021
Nobody listened to me, but for years I’ve said that Clapton isn’t God, Steve Winwood is.
— Debi Boggs (@boggs_debi) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton is no longer on my playlist, he can go FUCK HIMSELF.
— Albert K S Fong (@albertksfong1) August 28, 2021
It translates to "I'm used to being white & rich and not being told what to do"
— ✨Drekavac✨ (@Drekavacs) August 28, 2021
Clapton is scheduled to play dates next month in Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Texas.
Presumably to try to rub out as many of his moronic fans as possible.
— D. Earl Stephens ✍️ (@EarlOfEnough) August 28, 2021
Oh the irony, because what’s gotta stop is Covidiot Eric Clapton spreading misinformation about COVID19 https://t.co/PlLO9ctqtJ
— Tara Dublin (@taradublinrocks) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton Appears Frustrated With Covid-19 Vaccine on New Song ‘This Has Gotta Stop’
Just listened to his song and it really sucks. Lazy writing and he sounds like an idiot. https://t.co/bkOddzt3Jc
— Reesus Patriot The Irreverent Bastard (@ResusCGMedia) August 28, 2021
I used to think I liked Eric Clapton. Now I know there ain't no fucking way I can stand that asshole.
— 💜Peggy B💜 (@PegLulu2) August 28, 2021
In the white room with black curtains… pic.twitter.com/hb3kubImh1
— Dan Signer (@DanSigner) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton is anti-mask and anti-vax, and just released a conspiracy-laden song promoting it.
Do you think in the studio he slammed his fist on the console and said “I’ll be damned if I’m the only one to lose a child”?
— Steve Hofstetter (@SteveHofstetter) August 28, 2021
Imagine going through life putting every drug in your body, never knowing where it comes from off the streets…
But then real medicine comes along and you’re like “I’m not putting that trash in my body!!”
— Triple J (@DonaldD48774622) August 28, 2021
It looks like this is one guitar god who has been brought decisively back down to earth by his disappointed followers.
Hopefully, some of the comments from his disillusioned fanbase will sink into his brain and inspire him to revise his foolish views about COVID vaccinations and prevent more people from remaining unvaccinated and highly vulnerable to the Delta variant that has been seeping the world in recent months.
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Correction: A previous version of this article contained a copy and paste error that repeated the lyrics of “This Has Gottta Stop” instead of quoting the lyrics to “Stand and Deliver.” The mistake has been fixed.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.