Eric Clapton’s Big Confession About His Own Band, ‘It Was Like A Massive Car Crash’

Within the music industry’s fleeting environment, many bands shine brightly but burn out quickly, their existence marked by a blend of creativity and tumultuous challenges. The story of such bands often reads like a cautionary tale of fame, talent, and the pressures that accompany sudden success.

One such example is Derek and the Dominos, which found itself grappling with internal and external forces that made its downfall almost inevitable, as implied by Eric Clapton in a 1991 interview with Rolling Stone.

Clapton On ‘Layla’ And Emotional Turmoil

In the earlier part of the conversation, the guitarist talked about the song ‘Layla,’ which he originally recorded with Derek and the Dominos. He said that he couldn’t listen to a three-CD set released by Polygram to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the song due to the painful feelings it might provoke. Then, the interviewer said that the band was characterized by some unfortunate circumstances, to which Clapton replied:

“The way it started was so anonymous, being Derek and the Dominos and doing a tour with no one knowing who we were. And then it was finally discovered, and we peaked so quickly and made so much money.”

The Impact Of Rapid Fame On Band Members

Reflecting on the consequences of this sudden success, the rocker continued:

“And these guys, who were basically from the south – like [keyboardist] Bobby Whitlock and [drummer] Jim Gordon – were suddenly thrust into all this money and drugs and women, and it just cart-wheeled, took off and blew up.”

He then implied how the band’s downfall was inevitable, given the circumstances, noting:

“It was like a massive car crash, and scary, scary, scary. We couldn’t even talk to one another; we were so wound up and drugged out and paranoid. It was doomed, really. I don’t think it could have been salvaged by anybody.”

Recalling The Band’s Challenges And Drug Use

In some of his earlier interviews, Clapton opened up about the environment in the band several times. Speaking to Uncut in October 2006, he explained that following the making of ‘Layla,’ Derek and the Dominos disbanded. The guitarist also mentioned that their tour was challenging due to the excessive drug use and continued:

“It frightens me to think about it. It was cocaine and heroin, and it wore the band down, and a hostility was released that hadn’t been there before. When drugs or medication enter the picture, something happens to relationships. They just dissolve. Whatever held us together got thrown out, and the atmosphere was so bad you could cut it with a knife. My instinct in those scenes is just to get out. I went back home and stayed there and locked all the doors.”

The band split up in 1971 before they could complete their second album. In an interview with music critic Robert Palmer, Clapton explained that the making of their second album was disrupted by paranoia and tension. Following the breakup, the guitarist stopped touring and recording to deal with a severe heroin addiction.