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Eric Clapton Explains Recent Health Issues: Like ‘Electric Shocks Going Down Your Leg’

Larry Busacca, Getty Images
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Eric Clapton has been talking about how his new record, I Still Do, may be his last due to some longstanding health issues. In a new interview, he goes into greater detail about what’s been causing him so much pain lately, but is maintaining a positive attitude given his past.

“I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year,” he told Classic Rock. “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. “[It’s] hard work to play the guitar and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it will not improve.”

In 2013, Clapton canceled some concerts due to “severe back pain,” and, two years ago, suggested that he may quit touring, in part because of his health. But even though he said that playing guitar is “hard work sometimes, the physical side of it,” he knows he’s dealt with worse. “There was one point there where they were flying me to hospital in St Paul [Minnesota] and I was dying, apparently,” he continued. “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.”

Now that he’s in his 70s, he sees that he was fortunate to have survived the excesses of the ’70s, and, regardless of what he’s going through right now, he’s grateful to still be around at all. “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.”

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