Did Everyone But Me Already Know that Eric Clapton Used to Be into Dope But Now He's into Racism?



"Originally conceived as a one-off concert with a message against racism, Rock Against Racism was founded in 1976 by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and others. According to Huddle, "it remained just an idea until August 1976" when Eric Clapton made a drunken declaration of support for former Conservative minister Enoch Powell (known for his anti-immigration Rivers of Blood speech) at a concert in Birmingham."
Nice out-of-context quote of Clapton talking out of his ass from 1976 you've dug up there.

Clapton clarified in 2004: " 'There's no way I could be a racist. It would make no sense'...Clapton called himself 'deliberately oblivious to it all' and wrote, 'I had never really understood or been directly affected by racial conflict... when I listened to music, I was disinterested in where the players came from or what colour their skin was. Interesting, then, that 10 years later, I would be labelled a racist...' "
To cut him the type of break I only give people whose kid fell off a balcony, back in 1976, a lot more people used to be a lot more into racism. Hell, in 1985, half of American radio stations wouldn't play "Sun City" because it criticized Reagan for molly-coddling apartheid South Africa with "constructive engagement."

(somebody has been doing their "I have 100 different reasons to hate Ronald Reagan research.")

tl;dr -- 35 year ago, lots of people were dicks. Also, I don't care about Eric Clapton.
#2. Right, I totally forgot that saying you couldn't possibly be racist means you aren't. That works for most things, right?

"I couldn't possibly have killed that intern."
"Oh. Shit. Well, alright then, you're free to go."
Hmm. 1976. Maybe he was off the drugs then, but he was definitely a pretty hard-core alkie at that point in time. I'd take that into consideration when reading anything he said then.
Eric Clapton is not wrong.

There. I said it. And it is TRUE.
@5 Precisely. He was doing the bottles of cognac per day thing in the mid 70's. It's a miracle that he's still alive, and appears relatively healthy.
It's also a miracle that we care about the politics of an artist who may not have been terribly bright to begin with, and has only deteriorated from prolonged abuse.
It's been said but that quote is way old. "...now he's (Clapton) into racism" doesn't cut it. That's not a defense of what he said (apparently Jack Bruce, bassist for Cream who was just in town at Jazz Alley was livid with Clapton when he uttered those words). Just that I haven't a read an account that Clapton is racist at all.

Are you sure this wasn't Eric Cartman?
Hilariously, Clapton's aversion to "wogs" coming to England apparently did not stop him from eventually marrying and having several children with an Asian woman.

Also, Banna, please explain what "context" would make Clapton's rant excusable, especially given that he has reiterated his support for Enoch Powell multiple times since and as recently as 2007. (p.s. saying "There's no way I could be a racist" magically makes everything okay!)
Eric Clapton is the least interesting musician of all time. Even when he's saying something completely outrageous it's soooooooo boring.
(We're all still trying to keep Lindy from finding out what Elvis Costello said to Bonnie Bramlett, though, right?)
Confidential to Racist Clapton: The "wogs" want their blues back.
Ummmm, I get drunk all the time and I've never accidentally made a crazy white power speech.

@10: Exactly.

Eh..I really can't get my tits in an uproar over something some dipshit junkie said 35 years ago. Slow news day?
Time to google up "elvis costello blind ignorant nigger" for more Rock Trivia Fun.

Also, 'Rock Against Racism' was founded in reaction to Eric's mouthing off about how Enoch Powell was right.
@12, I love that bit of history so much.


No less because Costello later slagged Bramlett as publicity-hungry and having made her reputation solely on the back of....Eric Clapton.


Schmader mentioned it on Bramlett's birthday a couple months ago here on Slog:
racist asshole. ive been drunk off my ass and higher than a giraffe's asshole and those thoughts have never entered my mind. white folks love to excuse this crap. makes you wonder whats inside peeps' minds.
Wasn't Eric Clapton famous in the 70's or something?
This just in: rock stars say stupid and provocative stuff!
Racist or not, that's a hell of a way to sell records.
i know we are all more inclined to make excuses for people we like, and maybe i'm a jerk, but the costello incident certainly sounds like he was being deliberately provocative (a la sid vicious with his swastikas) rather than expressing a heartfelt ideology, which it certainly appears was/is the case with clapton.

so i'll give costello a reluctant pass, and add this to my list of things i dislike about clapton. because i'm fair like that, y'see?
Soooooo...Eric won't be doing any rap albums in the near future I assume?
I want to discuss this at dinner tomorrow, Lindy. Costello is/was clearly a racist (he sings about arabs and "white niggers") and yet he produced the Specials - who were racially integrated and sang about it, yet whose fans were not! British racism is different to American racism, but still awful.
Rock Against Racism was set up somewhat in opposition to Clapton's comments. So you being purposefully dismissive of his racism and making excuses - he was drunk, it was the 70s, drugs, man - for him is a useless, stupid thing to do.
Hell's bells, you just never know. I'll try to keep on loving his
music but it's not going to be easy after reading his garbage talk. Remember that he is rather famous for his covers of African American blues. Douche bag.
"Pattie had just been leered at by a member of the Saudi royal family."

So....1976=now? Hmmm.
In his autobiography, he came across as a guy that was constantly growing as a person, only to look back and realize what an asshole he had been.
Hopefully he has grown past this ignorance, too, because I really do like his music.
And are we supposed to give him a pass because he was neglectful enough to let his toddler crawl out an open window?
Wish Clapton had been on the plane instead of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
a person can be a total genius in one area and a complete idiot about every single other thing in the world.
Lindy, news flash: it is not 1976.

Just because Clapton used to be a racist moron doesn't mean he still is today. People change and grow, y'know? Or at least some of them do. If he's made any racist statements in, oh, the last decade, then I'd be all over his shit. But I'm not willing to condemn him today for something he said 35 years ago, and has since retracted.

I'm pretty sure I said a few things as a teenager in 1976 that I would strongly disagree with now in middle age. Life has a way of doing that to most of us.
@24 Um, those Costello quotes about "Arabs" and "white niggers" are from Oliver's Army, which as far as I can tell is anti-imperialist? While he did say what he drunkenly said about Ray Charles (and has apologized ever since) back in 1970-whenever, in this case he's speaking in the voice of someone he's implicitly criticizing.

In other news, Randy Newman doesn't like short people.
@ 24 "Costello is/was clearly a racist (he sings about arabs and "white niggers") and yet he produced the Specials - who were racially integrated and sang about it, yet whose fans were not!"

Jesus Christ, are you daft? It's called satire, friend. The British are rather well-known for it.

And the album you're referring to is Armed Forces. In context, the lines about Arabs and "white niggers" are VERY CLEARLY meant as a critique of English racism, and other supposedly "working class" mentalities. In fact, that's kinda the whole point of the album. As in: "beat up strangers who talk funny / take their greasy foreign money". (Sundays Best)

The line in particular about "white-niggers" is from Oliver's Army: "all it takes is one itchy trigger /one more widow one less white nigger." If you actually consider the implied meaning, he's talking about the sort of racist paranoia and imperialist fantasies which fed/feed British military recruiting.

Lord, Elvis Costello even made an album with Allen Toussaint after Katrina as a testament to the culture of New Orleans. But maybe he's just not a very good racist...
As for the comment about Ray Charles being a "blind ignorant nigger." Well, he was in a drunken argument and trying his best to push Bonnie Bramlett's buttons in the most offensive way he could think of.

Doesn't make it alright to say that sort of thing. But he's also spent the next 40-some years disavowing those comments.
#35, 36 that's well done, you. I'd forgotten the "Oliver's Army" line about one less Irish. Thanks.
nancy, do your research, will ya? he was not in the apartment when his son Conor died. he was in england. the window had been left open by a maintenance worker. clapton and the mother had split up years ago when he realized she was just a golddigger and groupie. of course, you probably hadn't even been born when this happened.
I think it's an eternal truth: You don't see a stable-boy about your toothache and you don't go to rock stars about anything that requires thinking.
Elvis Costello has stated, when apologizing, that his comments about Ray Charles were meant to be offensive. He was drunk, he was being an asshole, and he wanted to piss people off -- so he said things that would piss people off.

Given that he hasn't made a habit of racist outbursts in the past 30-some-odd years since then, I think it's reasonable to assume he was just being an asshole, rather than that he is a hardcore racist.

As for Clapton... Just because he was a racist then doesn't mean he is a racist now, and most racists don't happily proclaim themselves to be racists, so I don't know what the fuck he meant. Do you have anything from the last decade?
The British are rather well-known for it.

Theyre also well known for racist outbursts when theyre full of lagger and for beating on people of different races at football matches. The UK is not an example of racial harmony. Sarcasm my left nut.

@ 41: I never said that the UK was a paradigm of "Up With People"-style equality - just that Elvis Costello isn't himself a racist.

and @ Gloomy Gus: thanks! I'll admit I'm a bit of a reactionary Costello fan. Intolerance will not be tolerated.

Abu Imran, one of the most famous Islamic leaders of Belgium has said:
“We won’t rest until Europe has become an Islamic state. And then we will march on toward the White House and Vatican. We will carry out the promise of our dear Prophet. In a peaceful way, but we will continue until the Lord Grants us victory.”

Haouri Boumedienne, president of Algeria, has said:

“One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it.”

Recep Erdogan, the current prime minister of Turkey, makes no secret of his intentions: “Mosques are our barracks, domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets, believers our soldiers.”  He has also said that “democracy is like a train, we shall get out when we arrive at the station we want.”
@42, you'll have heard about the return of ”The Spectacular Spinning Songbook”, then. No Seattle stop - I may have to blow my carbon footprint to see one of the Beacon shows ...
One of my best memories is when my guitar teacher told me that he believed that Eric Clapton was complicit in the death of Jimmy Hendrix by letting him drown in his own vomit.

Maybe he had a point there.
@24 - I'm going to bypass your argument about how the lyrics of "Oliver's Army" paints Costello as a racist, because clearly you haven't bothered to do any research on the song.

But what on earth is your point about the Specials not having a multi-racial audience (highly, highly debatable), and how does that relate to Costello being an alleged racist? What does that prove about his racism? What does it prove about anyone's racism?
So, I guess we ARE letting Lindy know about the whole Costello/Bramlett thing now...

NOBODY sends me memos on what we're letting Lindy know about anymore...
@47 If not from us, she would have found out from the kids on the street.
I was just going to say that maybe he backslid and was into heroin again when he said this, but maybe not. This was about when E.C. Was Here was released, and I remember seeing him at the Santa Monica Civic about that time. He was pretty cleaned up...so what gives? This is the ranting of a mad man.
@49 - The consensus seems to be that Clapton was drunk. So was Costello. Both statements were odious, never mind the inebriation. But Clapton never apologized for his statements, while Costello went into damage control mode pretty quickly and repays his debt to African-American music as a matter of practice. Which he should. All 20th-21st century popular musicians owe a debt to African-American music. That's just basic history.

Seeing as how Clapton went on to record an album with B.B. King, and basically owes his career to African-American music, I find it hard to believe he's an out-and-out racist. But I admit, I couldn't find a footnote from him regarding his remarks. He never repudiated his support of Enoch Powell either.

I'm guessing Clapton's right-ward leanings eventually became more nuanced, and that he had to answer to his statements in a more coherent, less offensive and spewing way. Clearly he had to apologize to *somebody*. But I don't see the record of it.
Some of you have odd views about racism. I've never met a racist who didn't have exceptions, in fact in their mind the exception prove the rule. So it's perfectly possible for Clapton to record with AA artists like BB King, and to like and respect him, but at the same time have very racist views about blacks "invading" and ruining his country.
But...Enoch was kinda right wasn't he??

I'm not a big fan of Clapton (except for his great performance in The Last Waltz) and I agree his sentiments are worded quite crudely.

But I guess the comments these days in Britain would be more apt when in relation to the Middle Eastern Islamic immigrants rather than "black wogs and coons''.

Without trying to be inflammatory, could someone please explain to me why the gay and left community has been so quick to side with the Islamist causes when they will be the first to be decimated if their Islamist friends' wishes come true?
Obviously, they're too busy bashing Israel to have worked out that one. You're correct, of course.
@10: Yeah, that might be ironic if it isn't obvious that a lot of white men in romantic relationships with Asian women do so out of a creepy Orientalist fetish. Not saying Clapton and his wife *don't* have a happy, healthy, equal relationship ... Moreover, some racists have a hilarious blindspot when it comes to their loved ones. "Well, YOU'RE different."
I dunno, I have trouble believing that someone who's really a racist would say "I'm into racism." Bigots tend not to want to believe they're bigots. It seems like he's being rather hyperbolic in this quote, so it could be intended satirically... On the other hand, Clapton isn't really the sort of person I'd expect deep thoughts from, so.. I'm not sure what to make of it.
I remember reading on subway walls and tenement halls that Clapton Is God. Now I realized that they meant Old Testament.

Anyway, those remarks were especially ironic considering they're coming from a guy who made megabucks off blues music. I'm guessing he's grown up in the intervening 35 years.
Too bad almost everything that Enoch Powell predicted in his "Rivers of Blood" speech has come true. Look it up and compare it to reality, or stay in denial. Your choice!
@57: Fuck off, racist.




Or. continue to deny easily-observable facts of reality like a stereotypical willfully blind, willfully naive, embarrassingly earnest sheltered white Seattle liberal hypocrite who lives in one of the whitest cities in the USA
"The "wogs" want their blues back."

Note: wogs are not blacks. They're "western oriental gentlemen".
@59: Perhaps you are hard of hearing. I said "Fuck off, racist."
@61 wow your amazingly impotent epithet made all the facts of reality vanishike magic!




Or. continue to deny easily-observable facts of reality like a stereotypical willfully blind, willfully naive, embarrassingly earnest sheltered white VANCOUVER BC liberal hypocrite who lives in one of the whitest cities in NORTH AMERICA.
Europe and America are being overrun by barbarians just like Rome was as it collapsed. He's right.
@41 as a 20-year long season ticket holder for a British football club, and having travelled to half the league grounds, I have NEVER ONCE seen that. I've heard some racist stuff on the terraces, had people try to recruit me to the BNP, EDL, etc - but I have never seen someone get beaten up for 'being foreign'. Never. Not once.
To everyone saying 'Enoch Powell was right, let us investigate this thesis.

ENOCH SAID: "In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man."
OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE SAYS: Not true. Not even true 35 years on. Not even close.

ENOCH SAID: "There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of five to seven million."
OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE SAYS: Black people account for 2% of the 2001 census of 59 million, so somewhere in the region of 1.2 million.

ENOCH SAID: "Hence the urgency of implementing now the second element of the Conservative Party's policy: the encouragement of re-emigration."
OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE SAYS: About as many people emigrate as immigrate to the UK at a level roughly commensurate with population growth.

@62: You are a moron. You are too stupid and ignorant to even have a decent argument with. All you ever do is quote cherry-picked crime statistics that support your simplistic white-skin-good, brown-skin-bad world view. You have no appreciation of historic and social trends. You have no ability to understand the complex interplay of race, class, income, discrimination, education, and many other factors that result in different rates of crime among different populations.

Even your cherry-picked statistics are suspect. You don't even know that - far from being "one of the whitest cities in North America" - Vancouver is incredibly ethnically diverse with a visible minority population of almost 50%. In Richmond, where I live, there is a visible minority population of over 65%.

"Fuck off, racist," is all the argument you and your pathetic white power bullshit deserve.

And that goes for you too, Basehead. You're just as fucking bad as the anonymous troll.
What the fuck is a "wog" anyway?

@18 and 51- Oh, it's just white folks?
This speech is totally offensive and it is from the 70's yet it how Obama's spiritual advisor, Jermiah Wright, talks about Jews 30 years later. Louis Farrakhan talks about Jews this way and speaks at colleges all accross the country and no anti-racist activists show up to protest. Heard a recent interview with Ice Cube and he stil openly condoned hate crimes against Asians.
ps- if Clapton offended you take a look at what Jesse Jackson said about Obama 2 years ago. It's much worse.

@18 and 51- Oh, it's just white folks?
This speech is totally offensive and it is from the 70's yet it how Obama's spiritual advisor, Jermiah Wright, talks about Jews 30 years later. Louis Farrakhan talks about Jews this way and speaks at colleges all accross the country and no anti-racist activists show up to protest. Heard a recent interview with Ice Cube and he stil openly condoned hate crimes against Asians.
ps- if Clapton offended you take a look at what Jesse Jackson said about Obama 2 years ago. It's much worse.
That insipid piece of crap "Wondeful Tonight" was much more offensive than any spoken word that's ever come out of Clapton's mouth.
Say what you like about Eric Claptout, couldn't give a toss, But Enoch Powell was on the ball. Take a look at the UK now, WE SHOULD HAVE LISTENED!!!!!
"Wish Clapton had been on the plane instead of Stevie Ray Vaughan."

What a disgusting comment.

Not only was it disgusting, it was inaccurate. For the record, SRV died in a HELICOPTER crash August 27, 1990.
Well said Eric. YES fuck the smelly niggers and their crime waves, take your mangoes bananas and drugs and fuck off back to jamaica sharpish instead of turning the UK into a gangster ridden cesspit
now wheres my Pilgrim CD...
That`s Shocking from Eric Clapton,but what do you expect from someone that call`s themselves`Working Class`,although they`re from England`s most affluent counties,Had his hair styled into an afro a few day`s after first seeing Hendrix,started playing a stratocaster live within a few week`s of Hendrix dying..
I hate the guy and his unoriginal guitar playing-He`s a Ponce,and his only talent is for mimicry..And was`nt he living in America,at the time he said that?
F*ck you Eric,even your own mother did`nt want to know ya
I can understand your anger re. that old moment. But I have to tell you, I know Eric, I knew his granny who raised him and his Mom. They were and are are the sweetest and most generous folks Ever. Sometimes people will say something because they are drunk and pissed; i.e.. for some guy that grabbed his wife. But I'll tell you right now, if Eric ran across a person in need, he'd give you the shirt off his back wether you're black, white or labrador retriever. He was going through a very, very tough time and regrets that moment I am sure for ever. Not for financial reasons either because he doesn't need money. But please cut him a break. I have heard some of the most liberal people make similar statements, both black and white, and know it was not from their heart. Eric built a wonderful facility known as The Crossroads Center in Antiqua, a drug and alcohol recovery facility for musicians where people of all races and ethnicities have always been welcome. Truly, if anyone should be cut a break on something like this, it's Eric Clapton.
From God to racist in one decade . . .
Hmm Notice that the first names of the people spoken about start with E... Conspiracy?>> Ok Sorry. Eric Clapton fell in love with his friends wife and while smiling in the man's face stole her! He was a jack assed Alky and druggy and you think it is far fetched for him to be racist too? I think he is angry because he was the up and coming guitarist in the 60's until a "wog" named Jimi Hendrix took it away from him. ( Jimi conveniently died in Nottinghill England under suspicious conditions right in Clapton's territory. Yep I am making allegations) He also seems to forget what color Bob Marley was when he became most famous from singing his song "I shot the Sheriff" Especially when Bob Marley's version was much better. But I guess people would rather hear a mediocre version from a white man than a superb version from a black man. I also wonder if "the white room" wasn't metaphoric. "In the white room with black curtains at the station" Very odd lyrics don't you think? BTW Patti Boyd Harrison Clapton (who he wrote the song Layla about) believes what they did by marrying and betraying George Harrison cursed them and that's why their son was killed. So groupie who just wanted money when she was married to George Harrison before Clapton is an out and out lie. Plus she was a drop dead gorgeous super model too. Google her.
For those whose wanted to know:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wog is a slang word in the idiom of Australian English and British English, usually employed as an ethnic or racial slur and considered derogatory and offensive.

In British English, wog is an offensive racial slur usually applied to Middle Eastern and South Asian peoples. In Australian English, wog is a term used in jest or as a racial slur for people from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, including some Middle Easterners."