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Music

The guitarist that Eric Clapton called a "true genius"

After the death of Prince, a quote by Eric Clapton went viral across social media. It derived from a moment he was apparently asked about what it’s like to be the best guitarist in the world, to which he responded: “I dunno. Ask Prince”.

Unfortunately, despite being shared on social media thousands of times, that quote was proven to be false. While Clapton never uttered those precise words, after the guitarist’s death, he shared a revealing post on social media about how Prince was a constant source of inspiration and his favourite memory of ‘The Purple One’.

Clapton has spoken positively about Prince on plentiful occasions, revealing that ‘Purple Rain’ remains his favourite song during an appearance on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs. Clapton described the track as a “lifesaver” and also fondly remembered watching the live-concert film of the same name.

It was an eye-opening moment for Clapton, which made him understand the full spectrum of Prince’s talent. “At a time when I thought rock and roll was dead,” he said, before adding: “This is someone who is a reincarnation of Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown in one. I thought that’s exactly what the world needed.”

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After Prince passed away in 2016, Clapton delved into more detail about watching Purple Rain and explained how it comforted him during an extremely challenging time when he was at the height of his drug addiction. “I’m so sad about the death of Prince, he was a true genius, and a huge inspiration for me, in a very real way,” he said. “In the ’80s, I was out on the road in a massive downward spiral with drink and drugs, I saw Purple Rain in a cinema in Canada, I had no idea who he was, it was like a bolt of lightning!”

He continued: “In the middle of my depression, and the dreadful state of the music culture at that time it gave me hope, he was like a light in the darkness I went back to my hotel, and surrounded by empty beer cans, wrote ‘Holy Mother.’ I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Before watching Purple Rain, Clapton felt demotivated to write, and nothing inspired him to pick up the pen. Admittedly, listening to Prince didn’t get him clean or instantly transform his life, but it did help Clapton fall back in love with making music which is his lifeblood. For that alone, Clapton will always be grateful for Prince entering his life when he desperately needed a shot of inspiration. With that, Purple Rain was a reminder that he desperately needed to return to his craft rather than wasting away on drugs in hotel rooms.

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