Defending Eric Clapton

RECEIVED Tue., March 28, 2006

Dear sirs,
    A while back your paper printed an article about some obscure bluesman who proudly proclaimed in bold print, “Eric Clapton Sucks” [“Howlin' Wolf Does Not Wear Panties,” Music, Nov. 18, 2005]. Since the blues are timeless, a defense of one of its greats should be allowed also, if not totally timely.
    Maybe you have forgotten, but it was because of Eric Clapton an entire generation was introduced to the likes of Robert Johnson, Skip James, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, etc. Eric Clapton did more than just cover their songs, he personally saw to it that much-deserved royalties were paid to these men. This was important especially for Skip James, who in 1966 was dying, and the royalties from “I'm So Glad” (from Fresh Cream) gave him the priceless gift of living another three years and the chance to rerecord all his songs. When Chess Records initially refused to send Hubert Sumlin to play with Eric Clapton on the London Howlin' Wolf Sessions, it was made very clear: if no Sumlin, then no Clapton.
    Eric Clapton is the blues. He has confronted loneliness, alcoholism, heroin addiction, the loss of his young son, and the fallout from doing the most uncool thing you could do in England: falling in love with the wife of a Beatle.
    I don't remember the name of the obscure bluesman who shot his mouth off [Walter Daniels], but until he accomplishes 1/1,000 of what Eric Clapton has, he would do wise to shut up.
Ronny L. Hoff
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