After months of railing against COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccines, and refusing to play shows that require vaccination proof, Eric Clapton has seemingly embraced a controversial theory claiming that secret messages are allegedly being hidden inside YouTube videos with the goal of driving mass compliance with COVID precautions. The 76-year-old rock icon pointed to the theory as an explanation for his divisive views on the global pandemic that has killed more than 5.6 million people worldwide.
“[I thought], ‘What’s going on here?’ I didn’t get the memo. Whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me,” Clapton told YouTube channel the Real Music Observer about why he decided to team up with his old friend — and fellow lockdown opponent Van Morrison — for the anti-lockdown screed “Stand and Deliver,” as well as releasing his own similar take, “This Has Gotta Stop.”
Clapton told the YouTube channel’s host that he then realized that he had, in fact, gotten the memo in the form of a controversial theory espoused by clinical psychology professor Mattias Desmet, who has been promoting the idea that we are all suffering from a “mass psychosis” when it comes to COVID-19. The theory proposes that messages encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to take other precautions are part of a shadowy attempt to hypnotize the masses to fall in line.
The theory, which has been widely debunked, gained steam in December 2021 on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which has frequently been the source of incorrect and medically dubious information about the pandemic. Clapton has claimed that he suffered from severe nerve damage to his fingers as a result of taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, and was so sick he could not play his guitar for months.
“My career had almost gone anyway. At the point where I spoke up, it had been almost 18 months since I had kind of been forcibly retired,” he told Real Music Observer. “And I joined forces with Van. I got the tip that Van was standing up to the measures. And I thought, ‘Why isn’t anybody else doing this?’ And we go back; I’ve known him since we were kids. And I contacted him. I said, ‘What do you think? What’s going on?’ And he said, ‘I’m just objecting, really. But it seems like we’re not even allowed to do that. And nobody else is doing it.’ And I said, ‘You’re kidding. Nobody else?’”
Clapton said he was surprised and mystified when “nobody” wanted to hear his anti-lockdown songs, which just challenged him even more. “I’m cut from the cloth where if you tell me I can’t do something, I really wanna know why I can’t do it. And it seemed like I’d had a wall built around me. But I thought, ‘I’m gonna do this,'” he said, adding that he did cut some of Morrison’s lyrics “just to pacify those that I really didn’t wanna hurt … or scare.” Regardless, he said, some of his family and friends were scared.
And then he said he happened upon this theory about the alleged subliminal messages in pro-vaccination videos, and “I could see it then – once I kind of started to look for it, I saw it everywhere … Then I remembered seeing little things on YouTube which were like subliminal advertising; it had been going on for a long time – that thing about ‘you will own nothing and you will be happy.’ And I thought, ‘What’s that mean?’” said Clapton in the interview about the alleged mind-manipulation going on on YouTube.
Real Music Observer has frequently referred to people who support vaccines as “complete morons” and “hivemind,” and recent videos contain titles such as “Meat Loaf Possible Cause of Death Being Used Against People Who Love Freedom” and “Pink Floyd Legend Nick Mason Cancels All His 2022 Shows Due to the Thingdemic.”
“And bit by bit, I put a rough kind of jigsaw puzzle together, and that made me even more resolute. And so I went from that to looking at the news stuff that was coming out in England and the U.K. We have BBC, and it used to be an impartial commentary on world affairs and state affairs. And suddenly it was completely one-way traffic about following orders and obedience,” Clapton continued in the interview titled “Eric Clapton Versus the Hivemind.”
Those fears about hidden messages, he said, are part of what motivated him to work on the songs. “Then these guys that were in power really started to piss me … and everybody,” he said. “I have a tool, I have a calling, and I can make use of that. So I set about it and started writing.”