Eric Clapton again disses coronavirus vaccines

May 18, 2021 • 9:45 am

In December two of my favorite musicians, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison, broke my heart by releasing a song (“Stand and Deliver”) that was both anti-lockdown and anti-mask (see my post here). Yes, of course rockers can be loons, and I’m not so sure about Van Morrison, but I always thought that Clapton was a pretty sentient guy.

Now, however, as Rolling Stone reports (click on screenshot), Clapton, after getting two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said he suffered dreadful side effects that he attributes to the vaccine in general.

From the article:

Clapton previously shared his thoughts on the Covid-19 shutdown when he appeared on Van Morrison’s anti-lockdown song “Stand and Deliver” in December 2020; two months later, in February, Clapton received his first of two AstraZeneca vaccinations, he wrote in his letter to Robin Monotti, who shared the letter on his Telegram with the guitarist’s permission. (Rolling Stone has confirmed the authenticity of the letter. A rep for Clapton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“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…,” Clapton wrote.

“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…”

. . .In the letter, Clapton also discussed discovering “heroes” like anti-lockdown U.K. politician Desmond Swayne as well as similarly-minded (and some would argue conspiratorial) YouTube channels.

“I continue to tread the path of passive rebellion and try to tow the line in order to be able to actively love my family, but it’s hard to bite my tongue with what I now know,” Clapton wrote.

“Then I was directed to Van [Morrison]; that’s when I found my voice, and even though I was singing his words, they echoed in my heart,” Clapton wrote. “I recorded ‘Stand and Deliver’ in 2020, and was immediately regaled with contempt and scorn.”

Now most of us know that flulike symptoms are fairly common, especially after the second shot, but if Clapton already had peripheral neuropathy, he should have consulted his doctor before getting the jab. (Perhaps he did.) At any rate, I’m dubious about whether the symptoms he describes were exacerbated by the shot. Further, to assert that “it’s hard to bite my tongue with what I now know” implies that there is a general danger of the vaccines that is somehow being concealed.  This is doubly invidious because Clapton has a lot of followers, and this may dissuade them from getting their shots.

As we know, any reasonable measure of risk assessment would tell you that, if you don’t have underlying conditions that increase your risks from a jab, your risk of death/complications is much lower if you take the vaccination than if you don’t. To imply otherwise is sheer irresponsibility.

This is all my fault for assuming that someone’s brain functions as well as their fingers.

79 thoughts on “Eric Clapton again disses coronavirus vaccines

  1. Doesn’t Clapton have a history of being a bit of a thoughtless reactionary? I seem to recall reading about him getting in trouble for an anti-immigrant rant back in the ’70s, before such a thing tended to prove fully and finally fatal to a career.

    1. There is only one which I am aware of, when he did deliver an anti-immigrant rant, influenced by some right-wing UK politician of that time. He did apologize for it, and the apology seems sincere (well, one of them; he hasn’t been consistent here), and he was very drunk at the time. It is also completely out of character because not only has Clapton always been a champion of Black music, but the respect was mutual, with many of the old blues guys paying their compliments. He also has a child by a Caribbean woman. He has had Black musicians in his band. And so on.

      While I don’t think that it applies here, being anti-immigrant (in the sense of anything short of open borders for everyone) does not necessarily imply racism.

      1. Eh…He was kind of apologetic, but, when given the chance to disavow his support for Enoch Powell’s brand of racism in interviews as recent as 2004 and 2007, he still didn’t do so, even saying in the 2007 interview that Powell’s words are “still relevant” today. He’s never truly disavowed what he said that night, or at least he’s gone back and forth on doing so.

        1. To be fair, there was some truth in Enoch Powell’s words, I remember him saying that unfettered immigration would seriously change the nature of our (read British, or European) cities. As it turned out to be, with the import of Islam (no not black Africans, they integrate greatly).
          I can’t speak for Clapton or Powell, of course, but I think the large scale immigration of Muslims has not improved European inner city life, be it in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Sweden or France.

      2. Astra Zeneca is only one shot. Why did he get a second one? I think his (reputed) high alcohol intake would explain his peripheral neuropathy. It might also have addled his brain, explaining this deplorable rant against vaccines.
        Good musician, a bad doctor.

        1. Astra Zeneca one shot? I got my first one recently and a second one is scheduled for June.

          1. Yes and no, the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca vaccine is a Vector vaccine, which would normally convey immunity after one shot. However, AZ itself recommends a booster after 12 weeks. I stand corrected.

  2. It is weird how people like this let their personal anecdotal experiences override their thinking. Had I had a very bad reaction to the vaccine, I would’ve certainly gone to a doctor and asked his advice. But I would not have questioned the efficacy of it for the entire population. That’s like (illustrative example only) someone allergic to apples insisting apples are unhealthy to everyone.

    1. For me, reactions were a couple of days of “flu-iness” on the first shot and local soreness and swelling on both shots. Neither sufficient to justify either taking to the doctor (as if they actually have a treatment for such discomforts other than “take fluids, go to bed, OTC painkillers”, or fill in a “side effects” “yellow card” at (which would not have been my first visit there).

      It is weird how people like this let their personal anecdotal experiences override their thinking.

      I suspect they’re people who have had a lifetime of being told to “trust your emotions”, “don’t think – feel”, “express yourself from the heart” (which would actually be pretty messy if the suction cup slipped), and such like platitudes which add up to “don’t, whatever you do, think!”
      I’ve met a few musical dudes over the decades, and very few of them scored very highly on “analytical thought” scales.
      My first thought on reading the title “Eric” wasn’t “Clapton”, but “Little by Little”, a tale of a prolonged descent into madness and moral turpitude. By the four holy balls of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I must have been stupendously bored to have read that drivel and have it stick in my memory.
      And … now I realise that Pratchett must have ploughed through it too. That took a long time to penetrate – in plain sight beside the Faustian bargain.

      1. I had odd general malaise on and off for a few days after I got the shot. Some of it could have been migraines but it felt different to me. I was still able to work but I just felt a bit off and yucky. I had the Pfizer vaccine.

        1. AZ for me. Just a general mild malaise. So even if you reported it to the quack (not the Botany Pond practice, the others) they’re not going to give you a months worth of diamorphine for it. And it’s a well-reported response, so no point to raising a yellow card.

  3. Giving inordinate weight to the thoughts of “celebrities” is seldom appropriate. I worked in major league baseball for 20+ years and can write without fear of contradiction that, except for their ability to play baseball, most baseball players are entirely unremarkable people.

    1. This is such an important point. But as primates, we are so prone to give credence to the “dominant” figures whether they be politicians or artists or pure “celebrities”. I would listen to Clapton about music (with some personal reservations), but not about much of anything else.

      1. Listen to nicky: I got the J&J vaccine and had only one side effect: euphoria. However, I ascribe that more to the elation of having had the vaccine than to any effect of the vaccine itself.

    2. Ordinate attention to the thought of pretty much anyone operating outside their acknowledged field of expertise is “Meh”. I might consider Eric Clapton’s opinion on how to hold a plectrum to have some weight, and possibly also his opinion on how to improve traffic flow on the Basingstoke Roundabout (he lived in Englandshire, didn’t he?). But if I wanted an opinion on astrophysics related to guitar plucking, I’m more likely to go to an astrophysicist who happens to play guitar, not the other way around. Anyone got Robin Ince’s phone number?

  4. I think that the danger is limited because most of Clapton’s fans aren’t the type to believe something just because he said so, and those in the “who’s Clapton?” crowd won’t care anyway.

    I recently read his autobiography, which was very candid and gives a good description of his many faults.

    I don’t know whether the decades of substance abuse could cause the side effects to be stronger.

    My experience is that side effects range from non-existent to “in bed for two weeks”, so maybe he was just unlucky.

    I was surprised that he was vaccinated at all.

    I saw him live about three years ago. Probably the most expensive concert I’ve ever attended. I’m not a big Clapton fan (I like mainly his Cream stuff), but it was a good concert. I recently heard about ticket sales for an upcoming concert, but decided to pass, in part because of this recent lunacy.

    Van Morrison, on the other hand, has always come across as an arrogant know-it-all.

    1. “I think that the danger is limited because most of Clapton’s fans aren’t the type to believe something just because he said so, and those in the ‘who’s Clapton?’ crowd won’t care anyway.”

      Clapton has tens or even hundreds of millions of fans across the world. I don’t know anyone except very young people who would ever ask the question “who’s Clapton?” It’s a mistake to think any extraordinarily popular celebrity, and especially one as popular as he is, somehow has a fan-base that’s largely liberal and intelligent. And considering how easily influenced many people are, popular figures saying reckless things can cause a lot of trouble.

    2. Yup, Clapton’s years of substance abuse occurred to me as a possible cause of the severity of the side effects he describes. That said, anyone who knows about him should also know enough to not look to EC for medical or lifestyle advice.

          1. Great painter, that Todd Rundgren. He really made people suffer for his art.
            Oh, sorry. Tortur-ed Artist.

    3. From the Washington Post, (10-16-2020) part of the Q & A with Graham Nash:

      Q: I also want to ask you about Van Morrison. He’s got a whole song demanding we stop the pandemic lockdown.

      A: I love his music. I love his voice. I just can’t stand him as a person.

      Q: When I listen to Van Morrison, I’m not exactly sure what he’s talking about. It feels spiritual.

      A: Let’s not get spiritual. Let’s talk about peeing: One bathroom in a club and there’s a notice on the bathroom, “This can only be used by Van Morrison.”

      Q: Really. When was that?

      A: Two years ago in Sweden.

      Q: Two years ago? I thought it was like at a small gig in 1964. Two years ago. You’re Graham Nash, for God’s sakes.

      A: Yeah. But he’s Van Morrison. For God’s sake.

      1. I’ll have to check – is this the “Nash” of one-hit-wonders “Crosby Stills Nash & Young”? I didn’t even know any of them had first names. (Wikis, seems like it.) So he’s famous in music circles, is he. Well, I suppose he must be if I heard of him.
        I had several Ulster-ish (and Nortrhern Ireland-ish – different thing) friends and colleagues over the years. All insisted on playing Van Morrison tapes if the minibus/ logging unit/ helicopter had a sound box. Even I can’t avoid knowing more than I need to know about Van “the Man”.

          1. I’d have to Wiki to know who the others are. Probably someone(s) “important”.

        1. CSN&Y as one-hit wonders. As chas peterson said: LOL. Columbia released a 4-album (4-LP/CD) “essential” recording for CSN (1991) before “essential” recordings were a thing.

          1. News to me. And that was before I gave my music collection away. (But after I’d stopped buying tapes – too fragile.)

      2. According to Wikipedia,

        Van Morrison had been linked to Scientology in the early 1980s and even thanked its founder L. Ron Hubbard in one of his songs. Later, he became wary of religion, saying: “I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.” He also said it is important to distinguish spirituality from religion: “Spirituality is one thing, religion … can mean anything from soup to nuts, you know? But it generally means an organisation, so I don’t really like to use the word, because that’s what it really means. It really means this church or that church … but spirituality is different, because that’s the individual.”

        He’s still nuts, though – or is it soup…?

  5. “. . . if you don’t have underlying conditions that increase your risks from a jab, your risk of death/complications is much higher if you take the vaccination than if you don’t.”

    Don’t you mean the opposite?

    Regarding Clapton, he’s also a born-again. Found religion in rehab.

    1. Well, that kind of explains it. Such a mistake – Keeping the mouth shut allows others to wonder just how much is there, however opening it removes all doubt.

    2. Found religion in rehab.

      What a surprise. Not.
      It’s not like that sort of professional vulture are above peddling religious bullshit along with their psychobabble brain damage.

  6. It is telling – and egregious – how much is ignored by Clapton. The medicine here is not designed to make someone personally feel good – I suspect a profound misunderstanding there. Then, the actual objectives at each step of these vaccination programs are an exchange of one risk – death or misery from coronavirus – for other smaller risks – chills, discomfort, etc. The risks change in severity with increasing age and prior conditions. So the fact that Clapton, at some 75 years or so old (?), and as we know, significant prior conditions, can get up and lucidly complain about symptoms and problems – instead of possibly not doing so due to death from covid-19 – illustrates how the vaccine is indeed safe, modulo the risk tradeoff. Even Clapton took it well!

    However, I cannot fault many for not understanding this. Their doctors should be doing a better job – because it is the wrong time for a likelihood lecture when the nurse asks if the patient has any questions right before giving the shot.

  7. My paying attention to what EC says about vaccines is equivalent to his considering my views on how to play lead guitar. I think people in general have learned to better compartmentalize celebrity and their views have less influence than say 50 years ago.

    1. It would be funny for an infectious disease researcher or an epidemiologist to just walk up to him on stage, take his guitar, and proceed to lecture him on playing it.

  8. Yeah. I’m pretty much done with Clapton. If you are looking for a replacement look up a guy by the name of Snowy White. (Not sure about his politics, though.)

    1. Snowy White has famously played with Pink Floyd and Roger Waters. Waters has turned into a complete BDS apologist. It would hard to find someone more anti-Israel (though not anti-Semitic) than Waters.

        1. BDS is concerned with Palestine and Israel. It is possible to support the aims of BDS but have no problem with Jews such as, say, Woody Allen. Two different things. Yes, there can be overlap, but there doesn’t have to be.

  9. From the RS piece:

    Clapton also revealed in his letter that he performs on Morrison’s “Where Have All the Rebels Gone?,” a track off Latest Record Project Vol. 1

    Dang, sounds like Van the Man has developed writer’s block when it comes to giving his new sides a name.

  10. I also have peripheral neuropathy. I did not have any symptoms from my Pfizer shots other than the expected sore arm after the first and chills + fever after the second.

  11. There is a significant difference between anti-vax and anti-lock down. I am much more pro vaccine then the FDA (the AZ vaccine should have been released in December or earlier) but I think that many of the lock downs caused more damage that good. For example, I have always opposed outdoor restrictions except for crowded venues like sports.

    1. I agree and, interestingly, so do most liberal people I know. They never said it before I started the conversation with them, but it seems that everything has become so politicized that a lot of people feel the need to not oppose even a single lockdown restriction until they know they’re among others who agree. On the other hand, I remember some of my more radicalized acquaintances actively rooting for people to experience a severe COVID outbreak (and, by logical extension, lifelong illness and even death for some people) when Florida and other Republican states started opening up, just to stick it to the other side, which makes them no better than the “own the libs” types

      1. Aha! so that long ago graffiti scrawl “Clapton is god” has by this outburst proven he’s not.
        Neil Young wrote about the damage and the needle done, Clapton and his mate can write a moaning groaning wailing song on Covid jabs and lockdown.

  12. I don’t necessarily agree with Clapton but I do wonder, isn’t rock largely about being reactionary? What’s the alternative, that Clapton would go on commercials shilling for AstroZeneca? Imagining such a thing makes me think of this Bill Hicks bit:

  13. It is disappointing when artists whose work you like turn out to be idiots…or worse. I still can’t listen to Cat Stevens after his comments about Salman Rushdie. And Catch Bull at Four is a great album!

  14. Somehow I just suspect this whole story about the side effects is a load of crap. I have issues with nerve pain in my feet that I need to treat regularly to manage and if I get a migraine or other inflammatory reaction they always hurt more. It happens. He probably had an immune response that set off underlying conditions.

  15. “…But the propaganda said the vaccine was safe for everyone…”

    Er, no Eric, nobody has ever said that vaccines are totally safe, ever.

    If you are surprised by getting a reaction to a vaccine then this just shows that you’ve not being paying attention.

  16. I’m part of the Astra Zeneca study in the US. I got their vaccine in November 2020 and have experienced no issues of any kind.

  17. He’s one of my favorite musicians even though his stance on the covid shot did put me off quite a bit. I don’t think he’s an idiot; just that, sadly, he’s wrong about this. It seems a basic human trait to generalize from personal experience; Eric’s a musician, not a scientist. As both a producer (his Crossroads festival supports his drug treatment center) and performer, I assume his income has been deeply affected by the lockdowns, adding to his negative personal experience.

    I think artists express their personal feelings and their work would not be the same if a ‘good for humanity’ filter were to be applied (he’s not inciting imminent violence). Nonetheless, I regret his releasing this song.

    1. Well, why would you not take cocking advice from your plumber? Or medical advice from Bugs Bunny?

  18. I have peripheral neuropathy, as well as diabetes and high blood pressure. I consulted with my doctor prior to getting jabbed and he advised me to watch for any severe symptoms. I got Pfizer and suffered from nothing more than soreness at the injection site for a few days. I am waiting for the second jab. Clapton is a wonderful guitar player, but perhaps we should expect nothing more from him.

  19. One must wonder how Clapton would have report his experience of the expansive party sessions he indulged in, especially the feeling after everything wears off.

  20. >This is all my fault for assuming that someone’s brain functions as well as their fingers.

    I don’t think performing artists are known for their analytical reasoning.

  21. Is gossip related to rock performing stars a step up from the literary wonders which we see ‘tempting’ us while in the supermarket cashier queue?–or a step in another direction? Enquiring minds need info.

  22. It is sometimes difficult to separate the artist from their art. Whatever Clapton or Morrison says won’t erase how great their old music is but it will make it harder to fully enjoy. But a lot of musicians, artists, actors, sports professionals, are rather unpleasant people. Racists, serial philanderers, violent, dumb as hell, just plain rude and unpleasant, religious, spiritual, republicans…I can still enjoy a John Wayne movie even though as a human being he was far from a hero. Dali made fantasy art but again, what a creep! I loved watching Jose Canseco play baseball, but dumb as hell and a total crap head. Anyone who read Hemingway and has since seen the Ken Burns documentary, well, you don’t need me to recount his flaws or his genius. Granted, there are some limits. There’s a French band who’s name escapes me at the moment* but the lead singer killed his girlfriend. The music is still wonderful but I can no longer listen to it. It’s a matter of personal choice as to when they go too far. I haven’t fully made up my mind about these two but maybe the bootleg CDs from Asia in the 1990’s were correct to label them as Eric Crapton. I mean, as if his damn Christianity wasn’t bad enough!

    Edit(it’s working!) *Bertrand Cantat, frontman for Noir Désir, convicted of murdering actress Marie Trintignant in 2003.

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