Eric Clapton told BBC Radio 2 earlier this week that he is losing his hearing and suffering from tinnitus, a ringing inside the ear that is often caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise. According to The Daily Mail, Clapton revealed the news in an interview with Steve Wright on Tuesday. The legendary English musician—widely considered one of the greatest guitarist of all time—explained that he’s anxious about his ability to play his instrument and sing proficiently during an upcoming British Summer Time Festival in London’s Hyde Park.
“I am still going to work. I am still going to do a show at Hyde Park in July,” he said. “The only thing I am concerned with now is I am going deaf, I’ve got tinnitus, my hands just about work.”
“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,” he added. “[It’s] hard work to play the guitar and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it will not improve.” Clapton went on to tell Wright that he would be limiting the number of plays going forward, explaining, “‘What I’ll allow myself to do, within reason, is carry on recording in the studio. I don’t want to go off the boil to the point where I’m embarrassing myself.”
Additionally, Tuesday’s interview shined a light on the forthcoming film, Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars, which is due out this Friday. The documentary dives into the tumultuous personal life of the guitar legend, who rose to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s as a result of his solo work and time with pioneering bands like Cream and The Yardbirds. In particular, the film shines a light on Clapton’s battles with drug and alcohol abuse, a struggle that lasted for years until the guitarist embraced sobriety in 1987. During Tuesday’s interview, Clapton noted that he would often spike his Carlsberg Special Brew lager with vodka in order to mask how much alcohol he was consuming.
“For at least 20 years I was a basket case, and that is putting it lightly,” he said. “I drank more than you can imagine, a Special Brew with vodka. It looked like you were just drinking a lager, but in fact, you weren’t.”
Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars will debut this Friday, January 12 on Showtime. Clapton’s performance at the British Summer Time Festival in London is set for July 8. That show will also feature appearances by Santana, Gary Clark Jr., and Clapton’s old Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood.
[Photo: Wikimedia user Majvdl via CC BY-SA 3.0 license]