Eric Clapton Gives a Shout Out to Sobriety

By McCarton Ackerman 03/11/13

The music legend says kicking heroin and alcohol saved his career, and his life.

Clapton put the plug in the jug Photo via

Eric Clapton has been in recovery since 1987, but still doesn't take it for granted. The legendary British singer/songwriter participated in the upcoming documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, which chronicles the life and ongoing addiction struggles of Ginger Baker, his bandmate in both Cream and in Blind Faith. Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones are among the other musicians interviewed. In recently released outtakes from Clapton's interview, he says that he would never have survived to make albums like the upcoming release Old Sock if he hadn't sobered up. "I thought that if I stopped drinking and I stopped using drugs…I would not be able to play anymore. In other words, those were things that were necessary for inspiration," he says. "But it was a shortcut. My experience now tells me in a long time of being in recovery, that I can be a good musician with or without that philosophy.” The height of Clapton's heroin use came in the early '70s, and he passed out during the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden. He kicked heroin later in that decade, but then turned to alcohol, before finally getting sober once and for all. He has since demonstrated a longstanding commitment to recovery, holding benefit concerts for Crossroads, the treatment center he helped to found in Antigua. "It's a gift I've been given and the best way to honor it is to stay clean and sober to be able to do it as well as I can," he says. "I wouldn’t be here today—I’d probably be dead—if I hadn’t gotten straight.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.