Eric Clapton’s Racist Tirade

From 1976 but I hadn’t heard about it until now:

Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I’m looking at you. Where are you? I’m sorry but some fucking wog…Arab grabbed my wife’s bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that’s just the truth, yeah. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking (indecipherable). I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck’s sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he’s a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he’s our man, he’s on our side, he’ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he’s on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!

Bizarre considering his entire career is based on emulating black musicians.


  1. He was probably upset about what happened to his wife. Come back when your wife has been spat on on and called a whore for wearing a miniskirt in the city where she has lived her whole life as recently happened to a colleague of mine. The feelings you get after such an incident are immediate and visceral.

    1. Granted. But transferring that visceral anger to – well, not even a whole race or nationality but to everyone outside of a rather arbitrarily defined group is not really justified.

      And if you were British you might know that the nastiest, scummiest, most aggressive sector of the population is predominantly white and native British. (Well, that’s in my personal experience. But then, what do they say? ‘Love it or leave it’… and I left it. I’m pretty sure that England at least has above its statistically predictable proportion of total fucking shits. Though of course some of my best friends…)

  2. I saw this at Dangerous Minds a little while ago. The comments were pretty stupid–a lot of Clapton fanboys trying to excuse this horrible incident. “Oh, it was the drugs…it was his wife…it was the booze..he’s friends with Robert Cray” etc. In reality, he is an ignorant racist asshole millionaire blaming the underclass for society’s woes. This didn’t happen in the 1870’s–it happened in the 1970’s. Also, he is a mediocre guitarist, a poor songwriter, and gets way, way more credit than he deserves. Q: How is Clapton like coffee? A: They both suck without Cream.

  3. Figures that he’s a B.B. King fan–one more right-wing asshole pretending to speak for the down-trodden. I always thought there was something missing from their music. Now I know what it is: a soul.

  4. “Go straight to Hell, boys…”

    Fuck Clapton. Strummer showed more British grit and decency than that wanker ever could ever imagine.

  5. You are all aware of the fact that Clapton was a self-confessed “severe alcoholic and drug user”, (per his autobiography) at this time, right? He talks at length about a lot of crap he did during this period that he regrets. I don’t think it was ever actually “him” talking and it certainly isn’t the case in the present day.

    1. Sounds to me like the drugs and alcohol just brought down the wall where he was keeping this vitriol safely hidden.

      And according to the wiki link, he never distanced himself from these statements.

  6. He’s never apologized for it and has in fact pretty much stood by those remarks. He’s one of those who reconciles being “ok” with minorities (and appreciating and appropriating their music) as long as England is for “the English” (whatever the fuck that means, in this case, White folk and their culture). It’s a disgusting racism just like the more blatant straight up hatred for minorities even though it may be slightly different. It’s the same sort of cultural fear that inspired that terrorist in Oslo, in a way.

  7. reminds me of when Elvis Costello called Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant, n*gger”… and James Brown a “jive-ass ni*gger”. He later claimed he was being purposely obnoxious – and still later apologized. Clapton still hasn’t apologized. Grrrrrrr.

    ps – Costello (last paragraph under 1970’s section) :

  8. Maybe this should be tagged “atheism,” too? I mean, Clapton is god…

    Very disappointed to learn this. I’m not a huge fan, but I’ve always enjoyed his music. The Wikipedia entry on the incident suggests he hasn’t really distanced himself from those comments at all, however much he’s sobered up and made amends otherwise. His views seem to be “I’m not a racist. I just want all the disgusting wogs to go away.”

    Hard to defend or apologize for that kind of sentiment when it’s not fueled by cocaine.

  9. Has he ever been asked about it? Maybe (hopefully) the reason he’s never addressed those comments is that he doesn’t want it getting exposed any more than it already has. There are people (like myself) who have never known about that tirade until now -why bring it up and tell more? We’ve all made mistakes that we regret and rather than remind people of them – and tell new people about them – we just keep quiet and hope everyone forgets. I’m not making excuses for him – he clearly meant it when he said it, and he might be even more of a racist prick today, I really don’t know. I’m just thinking of a possible reason for him not apologizing. Even if he did apologize (back then or now) there is always a percentage of people that won’t believe he means it, even 35 years later. If it was me, I wouldn’t voluntarily bring it up no matter how I feel today.

  10. Apologising would be a step in the right direction and would at least establish that he didn’t mean the comments. The default without this is that he DOES and DID mean those comments and it’s a good thing that people are reminded about it regularly.

    It’s always there, at any point he can distance himself, he can blame the drugs or anything but the important thing would be for him to say he was sorry and doesn’t mean it now. He won’t so you have to assume he isn’t sorry and is a racist.

    Elvis Costello DID apologise and Ray Charles forgave him. Not everyone has and that’s the way the cookie crumbles when you say racist things in public, you don’t and shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

    It should be brought up every single time he’s offered a big money show, especially with black musicians. He should lose those shows as often as possible. It should also be brought up every time he releases an album.

  11. Mr. Clapton is not a mediocre guitarist as some friends here have said, he’s quite brilliant but in many ways a product of a lazy media marching in step for four decades. Having seen him many times over the years including with Cream, my feeling is that he died when Cream broke up, period, end of story. Jeff Beck then and now can blow Clapton of any stage… as in the day could Rory Gallagher, Peter Green, Peter Frampton (yes, Peter Frampton,), Steve Lukather, Carlos Santana and a long list of other players. Not to mention Mr. Hendrix.

    As to his searingly racist comments being blamed on his drugging and drinking and his self proclaimed political cluelessness, ask yourself this question… exactly how drunk or high would YOU have to be to say those things if you were not in fact a racist?

    1. An addition to my post above… pardon my typo, I meant to say that Jeff Beck could blow Clapton OFF any stage… and I forgot to mention that as has been said by others, his slagging off minorities has to be one of the most laughably, insanely hypocritical statements ever made by a musician in recorded (or recording) history. If it wasn’t for black musicians, Mr. Clapton, you’d be playing weddings for a living. In a fairly good polka band. In Branson.

  12. I remember that reaction to this incident led directly to the forming of the Rock Against Racism organization, which was very active here in the ’70s.

    And Clapton hasn’t made an interesting recording since “Layla”.

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