Eric Clapton was born and raised in Ripley, Surrey, England.

Clapton was raised in a poor neighborhood–mostly by his grandparents–and often attended the local Church of England.1 But times were tough and as Clapton got more into the rock ‘n roll counterculture, the more he got into drugs and drinking, and the less he was into religion (if he was even really into it to begin with).

Throughout his career, Clapton would encounter the Christian faith of others–performers or missionaries–and it seemed to have an affect on him, but for so much of his early and mid-career, Clapton’s religion was hedonism.2 Finally, in 1987, Clapton checked into a rehab clinic in a last ditch attempt to sober up–and there he found Jesus for real. He recounts his experience after realizing he had hit rock bottom:

I had found a place to turn to… From that day until this, I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express gratitude for my life and, most of all, for my sobriety. I choose to kneel because I feel I need to humble myself when I pray, and with my ego, this is the most I can do.3

But the challenges weren’t over yet and when Clapton’s young son fell out of a window on the 53rd floor of a Manhattan apartment building, questions arose again for Clapton. He said:

What they teach us in church and what religion talks about was a reality? Whether we just become energy, what is it all about? So I mean, it was a question, you know, will I see you again?4

Drunken politics

Clapton’s experience with politics didn’t get off to a very good start. In 1976, while on stage and clearly quite inebriated, Clapton launched into a tirade that simultaneously endorsed an extreme right-wing English Prime Minister candidate, Enoch Powell, and outlined what seemed to be Clapton’s extreme distaste for immigrants in Britain. The quote began:

I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man.5

It ended:

Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!6

Since then, Clapton has apologized, had a laugh about it, and tried to stay out of politics as best he can. He couldn’t help himself, though, when the British Labour Party took away his right to go fox hunting. Clapton joined the Countryside Alliance, an organization in opposition of the law, and had his people release a statement that read:

Eric supports the Countryside Alliance. He doesn’t hunt himself, but does enjoy rural pursuits such as fishing and shooting. He supports the Alliance’s pursuit to scrap the ban on the basis that he doesn’t agree with the state’s interference with people’s private pursuits.7

It seems Clapton has kept at least some of his penchant for conservatism. And that last bit approaches libertarianism as far as I can tell.

  1. Eric Clapton, In the Presence of the Lord. Christianity Today. []
  2. Eric Clapton, In the Presence of the Lord. Christianity Today. []
  3. Eric Clapton’s Prayer. Religion and Spirituality Forum. []
  4. Transcripts. CNN. []
  5. Did Everyone But Me Already Know that Eric Clapton Used to Be into Dope But Now He’s into Racism? Slog. []
  6. Did Everyone But Me Already Know that Eric Clapton Used to Be into Dope But Now He’s into Racism? Slog. []
  7. Eric Clapton Supports Fox Hunting. Free Republic. []