Sunday 18 February 2018

Playing guitar now painful for Eric Clapton

Struggle: Eric Clapton is suffering from nerve damage Photo: Kevin Mazur
Struggle: Eric Clapton is suffering from nerve damage Photo: Kevin Mazur

David Millward

Eric Clapton, one of the world's most famous guitarists, is struggling to play the instrument on which he made his name.

Clapton (71) said that damage to his nervous system had made it hard for him to play the guitar because of the illness.

"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," he told Classic Rock magazine.

"And I've had to figure out how to deal with some other things from getting old.''

For years, Clapton, whose career encompassed playing with John Mayall, Cream and Blind Faith, lived a life of rock and roll excess.

He struggled with addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and heroin.

"Because I'm in recovery from alcoholism and addiction to substances, I consider it a great thing to be alive at all. By rights I should have kicked the bucket a long time ago.

"For some reason I was plucked from the jaws of hell and given another chance," he said. "I can still play. I mean, it's hard work sometimes, the physical side of it - just getting old, man, is hard.

"I don't know how I survived - the 1970s especially.

"There was one point there where they were flying me to hospital in St Paul [Minnesota] and I was dying, apparently - I had three ulcers and one of them was bleeding.

"I was drinking three bottles of brandy and taking handfuls of codeine, and I was close to checking out. It's amazing that I'm still here, really."

Clapton married Pattie Boyd in 1979, giving up the heroin but taking up alcohol with a similar intensity.

After divorcing Boyd, he married Melia McEnery in 2002, 31 years his junior and a former fashion sales executive. The couple have three daughters and a grandson together.

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