Eric Clapton Confesses Shame Over Racist Remarks
A new documentary looking back on Eric Clapton's life and career has given the guitarist an opportunity to revisit his past — including some of the more painful moments.
As the Daily Mail reports, Clapton sat for a Q&A session after a London screening of Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, an authorized documentary assembled by director Lili Fini Zanuck from a treasure trove of archival footage. Addressed — but not shown — is the infamous racist outburst Clapton unleashed during a 1976 concert in Birmingham, England, when he expressed support for white nationalist politician Enoch Powell and warned that Britain was becoming a "black colony."
"I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out," Clapton said from the stage. "England is for white people, man. We are a white country. ... This is Great Britain, a white country. What is happening to us, for f---’s sake?"
Clapton's comments helped inspire the Rock Against Racism movement, and in the years since his outburst made headlines, he's been forced to reckon with those words repeatedly — frequently chalking them up to being out of his mind on drugs and alcohol, a position he reaffirmed during the London Q&A.
"I sabotaged everything I got involved with," Clapton's quoted as saying. "I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn’t make sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman, and I championed black music."