It seems a quiet and dignified retirement isn't on the cards for Eric Clapton, as the guitarist recently appeared on The Defender, a podcast hosted by vocal anti-vaccine campaigner Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Yes, he is a relation.)
The pair, neither of whom hold any discernible medical qualifications, discussed the impact of COVID-19 and how their anti-vaccine stances affected their relationships, as well as Clapton's recent collaboration with fellow sceptic Van Morrison, Stand And Deliver. In one particularly weighted instance of irony, Clapton bemoaned that his family and friends "think [I'm] a crackpot anyway."
“Over the last year, there’s been a lot of disappearing, a lot of dust around with people moving away quite quickly," he said. "It has, for me, refined the kind of friendships I have. And it’s dwindled down to the people that I obviously really need and love. Inside my family that became quite pivotal… I’ve got teenage girls and an older girl who’s in her thirties and they’ve all had to kind of give me leeway because I haven’t been able to convince any of them.”
Clapton is not alone however, his opposition to lockdown restrictions and entry requirements for music venues, seeing him join a list of big-name rockers like Van Morrison who vocally peddled conspiracy theories throughout the pandemic. Speaking on the podcast, Clapton called Morrison "a crusader".
“It’s been difficult these last couple of years, especially with mainstream media turning," he said. "I had been inspired by Van [Morrison] because he came straight out and his reasoning was, ‘We have to make music for people.’ He’s a crusader, he sees it as his calling. And I thought, ‘That’s right, people are not really acquainted with the idea that this is as important in their healing as any kind of medicine. The whole community thing of people with being together with music.’”
Clapton also claimed that US publication Rolling Stone were responsible for ushering in the end of late-60s rockers Cream.
"There's a grudge there. [Rolling Stone] helped break up Cream – I hate to give them that kind of power, but they did this funny thing where they interviewed me in Sausalito, then reviewed our gig at The Fillmore.
"When it came out someone showed it me and I fainted because I'd never been criticised on a deeply intellectual level like that before. I thought 'they've seen through me, I've been debunked' and I said to the others 'I think we've come to the end of the road, we're frauds.' They managed to convince me I was a charlatan and it's taken me a long time to realise we were pretty good!"