Eric Clapton revealed that he was going deaf while discussing his ongoing health issues and the difficulties of playing guitar in his Seventies during an interview with BBC 2.

Clapton noted he plans to keep performing live, but said, “The only thing I’m concerned with now is being in my Seventies and being able to be proficient. I mean, I’m going deaf, I’ve got tinnitus, my hands just about work. I’m hoping that people will come along and see me just because, or maybe more than because I’m a curiosity. I know that is part of it, because it’s amazing to myself I’m still here.”

Clapton has been open about the health issues that have impeded his playing over the past few years (his 2016 album, I Still Do, notably featured a photo of him playing guitar with fingerless gloves, as a result of eczema). In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Clapton said of his guitar playing, “I’m as good now as I’ve been in the last two years,” but acknowledged, “playing is difficult anyway. I have to get on the bottom of the ladder every time I play guitar, just to tune it. Then I have to go through the whole threshold of getting calluses [on the fingers] back, coordination.”

Clapton also spoke about his struggles with drugs and alcohol in the new interview. “For at least 20 years I was a basket case,” Clapton said, noting he typically drank “a special brew with vodka, because it looked like you were just drinking lager, but you weren’t.” Despite the damage of those years, Clapton said, “I think my past is probably my greatest asset because I can show some people, that are interested, that it’s an option to drink like that.”

Clapton was there to promote the new documentary about his life, Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars. The musician admitted that he found much of the movie hard to watch because it focused so intently on “the difficult part of my life,” but he said it also shows, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” He added, “I think it’s important to see that it’s a happy ending, it’s like a redemption concept. If you’re gonna go and see it, be prepared for a heavy ride.”

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