Angus Young Once Said Eric Clapton Wasn’t Genius At All
Even the most famous and respected musicians can be criticized by other artists. Not all great musicians think highly of each other’s work. This is shown by AC/DC’s guitarist Angus Young and his outspoken opinions about Eric Clapton.
Young once shared his less-than-positive views on Clapton in a 1986 chat with Guitar World. The guitarist talked about the musicians who influenced him, praising rock ‘n’ roll icon Chuck Berry for shaping his own music style. But when he discussed Clapton, Young’s opinion changed dramatically.
Young’s Claim On Berry And Eric Clapton
He boldly stated that Berry was ‘a lot better than Clapton will ever be,’ questioning the high praise Clapton received as a member of Cream. Young was quite clear about his stance as he continued to say:
“Chuck Berry was never a caring person. He didn’t care whether he was playing his tune, out of tune, or someone else’s tune. Whenever he plays guitar, he has a big grin from ear to ear. Everyone always used to rave about Clapton when I was growing up, saying he was a guitar genius and stuff like that. Well, even on a bad night, Chuck Berry is a lot better than Clapton will ever be.”
Critiquing Clapton’s Musical Approach
Young then criticized Clapton for his habit of mimicking his blues heroes, explaining:
“Clapton just sticks licks together that he has taken from other people—like B.B. King and the other old blues players—and puts them together in some mish-mashed fashion. The only great album her ever made was the Blues Breaker album he did with John Mayall, and maybe a couple of good songs he did with Cream. The guy more or less built his reputation on that. I never saw what the big fuss was about Clapton to begin with.”
Reaffirming Berry’s Influence On Him
During a 2021 appearance on the BBC’s The Rock Show With Johnnie Walker, Young again discussed how Berry influenced his music, saying:
“Chuck Berry was probably one of the great guitar people for rock and roll. He combined a lot of elements — he combined blues, a bit of jazz, and his own unique style. He melded all these kind of different genres of music, but he seemed to bring it together and bring it out, and it (came) out in that rock and roll style — so plain and simple, but it was so effective.”
Previously, in a 1978 interview, shortly after AC/DC released their fifth album ‘Powerage,’ Angus shared his opinions on Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. The guitarist humorously claimed they’d been copying his style for years. He noted that these guitarists were already well-known when he started playing.