Eric Clapton announced this week that, on his upcoming tour, he will not play in any venue that requires concertgoers to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Clapton, of course, has gotten the shots, but has no problem encouraging his fans to gather in large groups at his shows, which will surely become super spreader events.
Virginia Heffernan says it better than I could:
Here we go. Vaccinated celebrity-types discouraging vaccination for the masses. Worse: making vaccine hesitancy seem heroic, a revolt against tyranny. For art. And just as the Delta variant delivers death around the world.
Nostalgia keeps Clapton the guitar hero from being dismissed as a public health hazard. He should have been pulled off his pedestal long ago. Nearly from the start, Clapton revealed himself as racist, violent and now anti-science, and you can’t separate that from the “Clapton is God” package.
This is not to say that everyone who likes Clapton’s music shares his views. It’s to say that Clapton the delirious soloist has always been striking the same chords as Clapton the anti-vax preacher. There are decades of vileness that have been overlooked or rationalized.
There was that time in 1968 that Clapton damned Jimi Hendrix in Rolling Stone, using a casual racist slur and citing vulgar racist nonsense as the source of Hendrix’s appeal as a sexual fetish object. There was the time in 1976 that Clapton announced at a concert, again with racist slurs, that he wanted to “keep Britain white” and to deport all Black people.
And of course there’s the time in 1999 when Clapton told the London Sunday Times that fueled by drugs and alcohol he abused the model and photographer Pattie Boyd in the 1980s, when they were married. “I took sex with my wife by force and thought that was my entitlement,” he said.
Now Clapton, with his dangerous vaccine ideology, seems to be taking a life-or-death public health matter by force, and thinking it’s his entitlement.