Friday, October 26, 2007

Clapton is.......Alive and Well!

Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll: Clapton After 'Cocaine'

Listen to the story here

Listen to "Layla"

Listen to "Wonderful Tonight"

Second of a two-part interview.
All Things Considered, October 18, 2007 ·

In 1977, Eric Clapton released a version of the J.J. Cale song "Cocaine." At the time, Clapton was consuming copious amounts of cocaine — and alcohol — and had only recently kicked a heroin habit.

Now 62, the legendary guitarist looks back and wonders how he survived his decades of drug and alcohol addiction. Sober for 20 years, Clapton is the father of three young daughters, ages 6, 4 and 2.

Clapton writes about his many years of addiction in his new autobiography, Clapton. He calculates that he was spending the current equivalent of 8,000 pounds — about $16,000 — a week on heroin.

Drug-Filled Days, Nights

"Financially, it was ridiculous," Clapton tells Melissa Block in the second of a two-part interview.

"The thing about that kind of addiction that's pretty funny, on reflection, is that I always thought, 'I'm handling this. I can handle it. I can stop anytime. I just don't want to stop right now,'" he says.

During the three-year period that he was most deeply involved with heroin, Clapton says he stayed home a lot and did not perform live very often.

Later, when he had overcome his heroin addiction but was still battling alcohol abuse, he once performed lying down on the stage.

"It didn't seem that outlandish to me, and in fact, probably was all I was capable of. It was either that or just laying down somewhere else. The fact that I was laying down on stage means at least I showed up," Clapton says.

He characterizes the mid-1970s as a time that was "extremely casual and crazy … when anything was possible."

"I think in the book I did refer to the fact that there were people who were moving through that period with respect and dignity, and I just didn't run into them that often," he continues.

Music as Salvation

Even during these dark days, the music kept him going.

"The presence of music in my life has always been the salvation element of it. Not necessarily the playing, as much as just being conscious of it, listening to it, has kept me moving," Clapton says.

Clapton says he doesn't think his music suffered that much as a result of his addiction — he thinks if it had, it would have brought him to recovery earlier — and he expresses mixed emotions about his past.

"I don't know that I can honestly regret any of it safely, because it's brought me to where I am. My life would not be the same, and I would not have what I have today, were [it not] for the fact that I went through all this stuff," Clapton says.

"But I suppose if I do have any regrets, it is that musically I lost something there."

Life After Drugs

Sobriety brought its own challenges.

Making music without drugs and alcohol was very difficult initially — everything sounded so loud and rough to him — as was sex.

"It was funny because both [of] those things were things that I took for granted. And yet, without alcohol, both of them became very, very difficult and unmanageable," Clapton says.

He says that his earliest experiences with women were always fueled by alcohol.

"And so when you took it away, I just didn't know what to do and actually was, for quite a while, physically impotent. I was terrified. I would be paralyzed with fear. And I think, musically, it was the same," he says.

Despite his age, Clapton says he plans to continue touring ("It's something I will ways need"), although the days of huge tours are probably behind him.

"I don't think those big world tours are possible for me anymore, nor are they desirable, because there's somewhere else I'd rather be — with my kids and my wife. The home life has a lot of power for me now, and it's where I get most of my satisfaction," Clapton says.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Alan.
It's magic when he plays of course, and we all are pleased he is still doing it. I would like to read his history without appearing to be looking for the dirty little secrets. We've heard the addiction and recovery stories, and continue to use them in our own plans to continue among the living.

I need to say something about the "no regrets" notion that we hear so often from those struggling with clear eyed life. It comes from the fact that "regrets" and the depression and guilt feelings that may follow, are known to lead to relapse for many.
While it is true that all your past has led to this moment, and it can be good, it is not the case that you can say with certainty that it would not be better without the past drug use. It would be dishonest for me to say the same because I can't know for sure.

A minor criticism of a program that apparently is working very well. The wreckage is history, not without influence on the present. In my case, as with many others, I've said I'm sorry and attempt to make amends and move on, but I sincerely, wish I had not done many things I did no matter where I am at present. The key is to not use the regret as reason to pick up again, not denying that the regret is there.
That's me. I love Eric, but I bet he has regrets.