Blues guitarist Robert Cray has hit out at Eric Clapton for his views on Covid-19, describing how he made the decision to back out a tour with the English musicians after Clapton released a song in which he compared the lockdown to slavery.
The song, ‘Stand And Deliver’, was released in collaboration with fellow lockdown sceptic and anti-vaxxer Van Morrison, and sees Clapton sing the line: “Do you wanna be a free man / Or do you wanna be a slave? / Do you wanna wear these chains / Until you’re lying in the grave?”.
Cray was born into a segregated community in Georgia in 1953. Unsurprisingly, he found Clapton’s comparisons between slavery and the lockdown to be highly insensitive, and decided to send Clapton an email on hearing the track for the first time last December. “His reaction back to me was that he was referring to slaves from, you know, England from way back,” Cray said in a recent interview.
Cray and Clapton have collaborated several times, sharing the stage on numerous occasions. However, following the release of ‘Stand And Deliver’, Cray decided to cut ties with Clapton, sharing one final email exchange before cancelling his set of tour dates opening for the one-time Cream guitarist.
Cray also raised the issue of the controversial photo Clapton took with Texas governor Greg Abbott, who’d openly supported anti-abortion laws and measures to restrict voting rights. “There’s this great photo [from 2013] at Madison Square Garden after the show, with B.B. King sitting in a chair, Jimmie Vaughan, myself and Eric sitting behind him,” Cray began. “And I looked at that picture of Gov. Abbott, Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Clapton in that similar pose, and I’m going, ‘What’s wrong with this picture? Why are you doing this?’”.
Clapton has been critical of the vaccine “propaganda” and lockdown measures introduced in an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19, releasing a number of other anti-lockdown songs including ‘This Has Gotta Stop’, in which he yells: “You wanna claim my soul, you’ll have to come and break down this door.”
The musician also recently donated £1,000 and lent his van to Jam For Freedom, a UK anti-lockdown music group.