It seems that decades of standing in front of giant amplifiers, blasting super-charged blues rock has caught up with Eric Clapton. In a recent interview with BBC2, the man they call “Slowhand” revealed that, like his peers Pete Townshend and Stephen Stills, he is lately battling hearing problems. “I’m going deaf,” he said. “I’ve got tinnitus, my hands just about work. I’m hoping that people will come along and see me just because, or maybe more than because I’m a curiosity. I know that is part of it, because it’s amazing to myself I’m still here.”
Clapton is currently making the rounds promoting an upcoming Showtime documentary about his life titled Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars and has been quite candid about the health issues that have befallen him as he’s aged into his 70s. Speaking to Classic Rock Magazine recently, the guitarist said “I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year. It started with lower back pain, and turned into what they call peripheral neuropathy – which is where you feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg…I’ve had to figure out how to deal with some other things from getting old.’’
Despite his physical ailments, I had the pleasure of catching him live during a residency at the LA Forum a few months back and he hardly showed any degradation in his abilities as a guitar player. It was an incredible show. As he told Rolling Stone recently, “I’m as good now as I’ve been in the last two years.” I would have to concur.
Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars aires on Showtime on February 10th.