Eric Clapton Reveals Nerve Damage That Affects His Playing

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Clapton head shotThe guitar icon ironically known as “Slowhand” for the speed and agility of his playing has gone public about an incurable nervous system condition that makes it difficult for him to play. “I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year,” Eric Clapton told England’s Classic Rock magazine. “It started with lower back pain, and turned into what they call peripheral neuropathy – which is where you feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg.”

The good news is, “I can still play,” he says. “I mean, it’s hard work sometimes, the physical side of it – just getting old, man, is hard.” The classic rock legend known for his work with The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos and his long solo career is 71 years old.

Related: Clapton shines on new album

“I’ve had to figure out how to deal with some other things from getting old,” Clapton confesses. Nonetheless, he feels “My life is really blessed. I’ve got a wonderful family, a fantastically beautiful wife, in every way, great kids, and I can still play.

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“Because I’m in recovery from alcoholism and addiction to substances, I consider it a great thing to be alive at all,” he says. “By rights I should have kicked the bucket a long time ago. I don’t know how I survived – the ’70s especially. I was drinking three bottles of brandy and taking handfuls of codeine, and I was close to checking out. It’s amazing that I’m still here, really.

“For some reason I was plucked from the jaws of hell and given another chance,” Clapton observes.

It may be harder for him to shine on guitar, “But I love to play, still,” he concludes. “I sit in the corner of our front room with a guitar, and I play in the morning and I rest in the afternoon…. Life is good.”

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