At age 76, Eric Clapton still wants to make the world worse. After producing an oeuvre of some of the most lukewarm blues rock imaginable, the three-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer (who in 1976 told a live audience that he wants to “Keep Britain white”) is still spreading coronavirus conspiracy theories. Still not tired of this shit after a year and a half, Clapton sat down with something called Oracle Films. This loosely defined filmmaking team promotes free speech and open debate, meaning they’ve produced a couple of slick videos about how the lockdowns are bad, actually.
Clapton’s 25-minute interview is a map of his radicalization. Like many people who fell down the Qanon rabbit hole, old “Slowhand” details being disillusioned with the government during Brexit and turning to, you guessed it, YouTube. He discovered lockdown skeptics promoting “focused protection,” a widely criticized theory that would mean lockdowns for the most vulnerable and free and open spread for everyone else. As the pandemic continued, Clapton found himself frequenting COVID-skeptic channels on the encrypted chat app Telegram, where he found a community more welcoming to his distorted worldview and, in turn, alienated him from friends and family. It’s a tale as old as time (or, at least, the last five years or so).
“I would try to reach out to fellow musicians and sometimes I just don’t hear from them anymore,” Clapton said. “My phone doesn’t ring very often. I don’t get that many texts and emails any more. It’s quite noticeable.”
For his part, Clapton, once again, tells of his vaccination story, which he says left him bedridden for two weeks. Exacerbated by his pre-existing medical conditions, such as emphysema and nerve damage, the Astra-Zeneca (AZ) vaccine, he says, gave him many of the well-reported symptoms like chills, fever, and aches. Nevertheless, the experience he outlines was undoubtedly a little more intense than others:
I took the first jab of AZ and straight away had severe reactions which lasted ten days. I recovered eventually and was told it would be twelve weeks before the second one [...] About six weeks later, I was offered and took the second AZ shot, but with a little more knowledge of the dangers. Needless to say, the reactions were disastrous, my hands and feet were either frozen, numb or burning, and pretty much useless for two weeks, I feared I would never play again. I suffer with peripheral neuropathy and should never have gone near the needle. But the propaganda said the vaccine was safe for everyone.
Of course, had Mr. Clapton sought expertise from someone outside his backward community of anti-vax, anti-mask, and anti-lockdown free speech warriors, he probably could have learned why the symptoms were so intense. Side effects are typical with all vaccines; sometimes, they’re more intense than others, especially for the elderly and people with certain health conditions. For Astra-Zeneca, the side effects are well documented. Instead, he’s using what amount of notoriety he has left to spread fears about vaccinations for a virus that’s already killed 3.8 million people.
Last year, Clapton decided to do one of the worst things a musician can do at the current moment: He released a single with Van Morrison. The latter unleashed an album of vague conspiratorial ramblings in 2020. And despite featuring a track entitled “They Own The Media,” Van Morrison’s Latest Record Project Volume 1 (an ominous title if there ever was one) is still available on all platforms, which is just great.
The whole interview runs for about 25 minutes, but don’t worry about watching it. Its appearance in your YouTube history will probably ruin your feed for months. Instead, here’s a “Drummer At The Wrong Gig.” It’s still the internet’s best video, and you don’t have to worry about being inundated with videos that feature free speech crusaders asking leading questions and offering largely debunked answers.