The last year has been a huge struggle for Eric Clapton. The three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been suffering from a nervous system disorder, peripheral neuropathy, that has made it very difficult to do the very thing that has defined his professional life: play guitar. The condition can cause muscle weakness, as well as numbness in the hands and feet and a loss of coordination.
Speaking to Classic Rock Magazine, Clapton said, “I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year. 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. And I’ve had to figure out how to deal with some other things from getting old.”
Just a month after releasing his 23rd solo album, the No. 1 Top Rock Albums charting I Still Do, Clapton, 71, admitted, “[It’s] hard work to play the guitar and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it will not improve.” Clapton canceled a number of tour dates in 2013 due to back pain and said that given his years of addiction he’s lucky to be around at all.
“Because I’m in recovery from alcoholism and addiction to substances, I consider it a great thing to be alive at all,” he said. “By rights I should have kicked the bucket a long time ago. For some reason I was plucked from the jaws of hell and given another chance.” A spokesperson for Clapton could not be reached for further comment. It’s unclear if the condition will impact Clapton’s future touring plans.