Eric Clapton has revealed that his polarizing views on the coronavirus pandemic have strained his personal relationships.
“I’ve tried to reach out to fellow musicians,” the famed guitarist explained during an interview with YouTube channel Oracle Films. “I just don’t hear from them anymore. My phone doesn’t ring very often. I don’t get that many texts and emails any more. It’s quite noticeable.”
Clapton vocally challenged the U.K.’s COVID-related lockdown laws, even going so far as to release a single alongside Van Morrison condemning his government’s actions.
“I thought quite strongly about taking my family away from England,” the rocker admitted. “We’ll go and live somewhere else, we’ll start somewhere else.”
Despite having a “terrible fear of needles,” Clapton reluctantly received the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this year “for my kids.” The guitarist encountered severe reactions to the shots, including fever, trouble sleeping and strong painful feelings in his hands and feet. “The vaccine took my immune system and shook it around,” the rocker explained, adding that the experience “frightened the shit out of me.”
While many medical professionals (and celebrities) have expressed their support for vaccines, touting them as a safe and effective way for society to return to normal, Clapton’s negative reaction has rendered him a vocal minority. His comments against both lockdowns and vaccinations have been met with criticism.
“I was ostracized. And I could feel that everywhere,” the guitarist declared, noting that he even felt rejected within his own family. “I could feel alienation because I held a different view.”
Now, on both sides of the pond, live concerts are poised to return. Though many people are crediting the rollout of vaccines and continued social distancing measures with curbing the virus’ spread, Clapton remains steadfast in his beliefs.
“I believe most of all in free speech and freedom of movement. And life and love and kindness,” the iconic musician explained. “I’ve seen scorn and contempt from both sides. And I get caught in the crossfire a lot. But I don’t really feel educated enough to know enough about either of these areas.”
See Eric Clapton’s Guitar Hero Yearbook Picture