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Clapton Recalls Dealing With Music Upon Getting Sober

Eric Clapton
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Eric Clapton is celebrating 25 years of sobriety this year. The guitarist, who’s receiving great reviews for his new album, Old Sock, told Mojo magazine that for years booze and drugs went hand in hand with his music, recalling, “When I was getting sober, I found it was the thing I had the biggest false conception of. I was convinced that I need to drink or get stoned in order to play. It was only later when I got sober that I remembered back when I was learning to play guitar, and I was absolutely in tune with what I was hearing from the blues, and I wanted to find more stuff by Freddie King so I could see how many different kinds of solos he would play. That was pre-drinking.”

Clapton went on to explain how he was able to relate to music after he finally dried up: “The choice came down to: Do you want to live? Or do you want to die playing music in a disillusioned way? As soon as I visualized that — and I said, ‘I won’t play anymore, I’m tired of this sh**’ — I was free. Music came back to me in a way that I’ve never experienced before, where it was something I could do or not do. . . So, I had a choice in my life whereas before it was a compulsion. There wasn’t that much difference between that and addiction to a substance.”

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