On May 12, Eric Clapton detailed his criticism of COVID-19 vaccines in a letter he sent to anti-lockdown activist Robin Monotti Graziadei, which was subsequently posted to Telegram. In it, he talked about politicians, labeled the safety of the vaccines as “propaganda” and lamented the public’s reactions to the song he wrote with Van Morrison recently, called “Stand and Deliver.”
“I am an old timer, I have survived, with great help, addiction and alcoholism, and stand now in the greatest dilemma of my life…,” Clapton began. “I have inwardly stood against our ‘elected leaders’ since Brexit, intuitively doubting their integrity and character…”
Clapton continued, expressing his disappointment with how the UK government handled their pandemic response, and named some COVID-19 researchers who similarly criticized the media and government’s handling of the crisis. The first of those he mentioned is Carl Heneghan, an Oxford professor who notably claimed that Facebook’s labeling of one of his articles as “False information” was a denial of freedom of speech.
Later, he commented on his experience with the AstraZeneca vaccine, claiming that he had he had “severe reactions which lasted ten days” from the first shot, and for the second, “the reactions were disastrous, my hands and feet were either frozen, numb or burning, and pretty much useless for two weeks, I feared I would never play again, (I suffer with peripheral neuropathy and should never have gone near the needle.) But the propaganda said the vaccine was safe for everyone….”
He also listed a series of people and YouTube channels who have denied the effectiveness of COVID-19 prevention measures, and called them “heroes in the house.” It’s at this point that he mentioned Morrison. “Then I was directed to Van M, that’s when I found my voice, and even though I was singing his words, they echoed in my heart…,” he says. “I recorded ‘Stand and Deliver’ in 2020, and was immediately regaled with contempt and scorn…”
“Stand and Deliver” called for live shows to be resumed by referring to the UK as “a police state.” In it, Clapton and Morrison also compared the following COVID-19 restrictions to slavery. He sang, “Do you want to be a free man/Or do you want to be a slave/Do you want to wear these chains/Until you’re lying in the grave.”
Van Morrison has released several anti-lockdown singles, culminating in his new album Latest Record Project, which is a double album featuring songs like “Where Have All the Rebels Gone,” “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” “Stop Bitching, Do Something,” “They Own the Media” and “Why Are You On Facebook?” Morrison responded to the criticism of his anti-lockdown songs by saying, “If you do songs that are an expression of freedom of speech, you get a very negative reaction.” Previously, he called socially-distanced concerts “Pseudo-science.”
Clapton closed his statement with a reference to the first of those Van Morrison songs mentioned, “Where Have All the Rebels Gone.” He stated, “I’ve recorded and will post here another song by Van called “The Rebels” it’s not aggressive or provocative, it just asks; ‘Where have all the rebels gone?/Hiding behind their computer screens/Where’s the spirit, where is the soul/Where have all the rebels gone?’ I’ve been a rebel all my life, against tyranny and arrogant authority, which is what we have now, but I also crave fellowship, compassion and love, and that I find here…I believe with these things we can prevail.”