I had no idea that Eric Clapton was once an avowed (rather than just a plain ole complicit) racist.
In fact, I thought all those soulful white singers/rock ’n’ rollers from England loved black men, especially those who gave birth to their beloved (and quite fruitful—especially for white men) rock music.
But, uh, not Eric Clapton.
The legendary guitarist must’ve fallen into the “loves black culture but not black people” trope (even if said people literally gave you the music you play).
Recently, the Daily Beast reported that Clapton was at a Q&A after his biographical documentary Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars aired. The film showed footage of Clapton chanting racial slurs such as “coons” and “wogs” (short for golliwogs) and saying “England is for white people” at a 1976 concert in the British city of Birmingham. (I guess all Birminghams are not so great on the race-relations thing.)
In the video, Clapton jumped behind racist Tory Member of Parliament Enoch Powell and declared that Britain must stop itself from becoming a “black colony”:
“I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country,” Clapton declared. “Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking … don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country. What is happening to us, for fuck’s sake?”
Clapton has apologized over the years, saying it was his heavy drug and alcohol addictions that spurred his racist diatribe.
He also said he kinda likes black people!
“I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semiracist, which didn’t make sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman and I championed black music,” said Clapton.
The three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (you know, the form of music the black people created) truly proves the point that the “I have black friends” thing might not make whites as anti-racist as they think. We, of course, know better.
And maybe he does, too.