Earlier this week I was in New York City on business. My friend Suzanne and I decided to grab a drink at the Four Seasons. As I opened the door a man walked out. As our eyes met I realized it was Eric Clapton. Now, I've met a lot of rock stars that 100 years from now nobody will ever remember (Dee Synder, Meatloaf, and Joan Jett to name just a few). But Eric is different. He's, in my mind, rock royalty. He can be mentioned in the same breath with The Beatles, Stones, The Who, and Zeppelin. I can only think of one other solo artist that is close to Clapton's stature - Neil Young. Dare I say, Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen aren't in the Clapton's league.
As Eric walked out I immediately recognized him and said, "Um. Hi, how are you?" as if we've known each other for years. I stuck my hand out and as he shook it he said, "how are you?" We both then turned and as I walked into the hotel he stepped his limo. Eric was leaving to attend the "Ahmet Ertegun: A Celebration" private memorial service. Ertegun, the chairman of Atlantic Records, died on Dec. 14 at 83. Clapton, leading a band that included the New Orleans pianist Dr. John, played two songs that he said Mr. Ertegun always sang when they would get drunk together: Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” a prayer for romance and world peace, and Stick McGhee’s “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-dee-o-dee,” the single that got Atlantic Records off the ground.
To wrap up this post I want to comment on why I wrote "I Shook Hands With God." Back in the mid-sixties when Eric first rose to prominence the phrase “Clapton is God” was spray painted on a wall in the Underground station in Islington in the mid-60s by an admirer.
The graffiti was captured in a now-famous photograph. Helped by the photo, the legend grew. It is now commonly believed that graffiti proclaiming “Clapton is God” could be seen all over the walls of the London Underground system during the mid- to late-60s.
That may be the story. But, here's why I believe Clapton is God. Enjoy.
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