Why The Who’s Pete Townshend Called Eric Clapton ‘Shallow’

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With his timeless music works, Eric Clapton is a successful and influential guitarist who is regularly ranked among the top guitarists of all time. Clapton has worked with the Yardbirds, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith throughout his career. In 1970, the guitarist embarked on a solo career and made outstanding contributions to the music scene.

Although Slowhand has a huge fanbase, it seems like some aren’t a fan of his sound. The Who’s Pete Townshend is among those, and he once even argued that Clapton sounded empty, although he is a great guitar player. In a 1982 interview, Townshend also went on to call Clapton a shallow person.

What Caused Pete Townshend To Describe Eric Clapton As A Shallow Person?

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Speaking to Rolling Stone in 1982, Pete Townshend revealed his thoughts on Eric Clapton. Townshend stated that he didn’t know what the guitarist wanted out of life because their priorities were somewhat different. He then argued that Clapton was hurt when he wasn’t ranked as the number 1 guitarist by various sources. According to Townshend, this was a shallow thing.

Moreover, the Who icon said this was apparently important for Clapton but not for him. He then revealed his insights about Eric Clapton’s personality, saying Slowhand considers himself more of a musician than a star because he is self-conscious of his image and responsibilities, which was why ranking was important to him. As Townshend said, Clapton is actually a more complex person than he appears.

Here is what Pete Townshend told Rolling Stone about Eric Clapton:

“I don’t know what Eric really wants out of life anymore. I know that some of the things Eric finds very important, I don’t give a damn about. He was very hurt when he stopped being voted number-one guitar player in various guitar magazines.

I thought, ‘Well, how shallow.’ But that was important to him. I think he thinks of himself far more as a musician than a ‘star.’ He’s self-conscious of his image and, to a degree, his responsibility. But he’s much more complex than appears on the outside.”

As it appears, Pete Townshend believed Eric Clapton was shallow because his ranking as a guitarist affected him negatively. However, Townshend respectfully added that the guitarist was self-conscious of his responsibility as a musician, which might be why Clapton felt hurt when he didn’t see his name at the number 1 spot.