Why Eric Clapton Pitied The Beatles

It was evident from interviews over the years that Eric Clapton wasn’t the biggest fan of The Beatles. The guitarist saw the band as ‘one person’ and even found them ‘odd.’ It wasn’t until Clapton started to bond with George Harrison that he grew close to the Fab Four.

Even though he got to work on a track with The Beatles later down the line, when asked whether their commercial success bothered him, Clapton admitted in a 2014 interview with NDR and said:

“It was, yes. But not because I envied them. I always liked them individually as people, especially George [Harrison] and John [Lennon]. I knew them from 1963 when I was in the Yardbirds, and we were in some dreadful Christmas entertainment show together at the London Palladium and then at the Hammersmith Odeon.”

The guitarist continued:

“I was going through a bit of a pseudo-intellectual stage then and reading American underground writers like Ginsberg and Kerouac and watching Japanese and French films. I took myself far too seriously. I was against big commercial success!”

Clapton also shared that he couldn’t wrap his head around the craze that followed the band by adding:

“I saw close up what The Beatles had to go through when Beatlemania was at its height. I noted how they had to wear their stage outfits even when they were off duty at clubs in the evening, how they were expected to shake their mop top heads in unison for the cameras and always be grinning and cute. Worse than that, I saw how half the country copied them. I found it sad.”

He further explained that it wasn’t so much about their music but more so what fame did to the band members, especially Harrison. Eric explained:

“The music was overwhelmed by the nonsense. All that loss of identity. It did George damage for years after. So, I was negative about The Beatles industry, and a big reason for that was I really liked the very bright guys who were The Beatles, and I rather pitied them. Does that make more sense now?”

Eric even shared one of his ‘proudest moments’ that involved George. He expressed:

“Certainly, I liked their later work a lot. And one of my proudest moments was being invited by George to play with the Beatles on their ‘My Guitar Gently Weeps’ track in later years.”

You can read Eric Clapton’s 2014 interview with NDR here and listen to ‘My Guitar Gently Weeps’ below.