Famed guitarist Eric Clapton has been an outspoken critic of measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including performing the Van Morrison-penned, anti-lockdown song "Stand and Deliver" released in December 2020. According to Variety:
Written by Morrison and performed by Clapton, the four-and-a-half minute bluesy track expresses dissatisfaction with the government-ordered lockdowns spurred by rising cases of COVID-19.
“Do you wanna be a free man/ Or do you wanna be a slave?/ Do you wanna wear these chains/ Until you’re lying in the grave?” Clapton sings.
Other lyrics include: “Magna Carta, Bill of Rights/ The constitution, what’s it worth?/ You know they’re gonna grind us down, ah/ Until it really hurts/ Is this a sovereign nation/ Or just a police state?/ You better look out, people/ Before it gets too late.”
Two months later, Clapton received two shots of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, after which he claimed he had experienced “disastrous” side effects that left his hands and feet numb. The musician wrote a letter about his experience in which he criticized the “propaganda” that maintained the COVID vaccine was "safe for everyone":
In February this year, before I learned about the nature of the vaccines, (and being 76 with ephezyma) I was in the avant garde. I took the first jab of AZ and straight away had severe reactions which lasted ten days, I recovered eventually and was told it would be twelve weeks before the second one...
About six weeks later I was offered and took the second AZ shot, but with a little more knowledge of the dangers. Needless to say the reactions were disastrous, my hands and feet were either frozen, numb or burning, and pretty much useless for two weeks, I feared I would never play again, (I suffer with peripheral neuropathy and should never have gone near the needle.) But the propaganda said the vaccine was safe for everyone....
It was no surprise, then, that after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in July 2021 that full vaccination status would be required to enter nightclubs and other venues where large numbers of people gather, Clapton himself issued a countering announcement declaring that he would not perform in any public setting where proof of vaccination was required for attendance:
“Following the PM’s announcement on Monday the 19th of July 2021 I feel honor-bound to make an announcement of my own,” Clapton said. “I wish to say that I will not perform on any stage where there is a discriminated audience present. Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”
The guitarist's current tour calendar lists only a couple of UK shows, at London's Royal Albert Hall, scheduled for May of 2022. Clapton is set to embark on a U.S. concert tour in September 2021.