“Would you know my name?”: The tragic story behind the song “Tears in Heaven”.

Eric Clapton during a festival in 2007.
Majvdl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eric Clapton was born in 1945 in Ripley, England. He is one of the most influential guitarists of all time as Rolling Stone put him 2nd in their ranking of “the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time”, right after Jimi Hendrix. His music style is Blues Rock, inspired by many great legends like B.B King, Muddy Waters, and Freddy King…He had a lot of bands throughout his career and decided in 1970 to pursue a solo career.

But his influence is a lot bigger than you think: In 1974, he went to Jamaica and met the young and not yet famous Bob Marley. He recorded a cover of his song “I Shot The Sheriff” that helped reggae reach a mass market internationally and started the wave of reggae in Europe and North America. Let’s talk about the hit and beautiful song “Tears in Heaven” with that in mind.
 
The story started in 1991. Eric Clapton has a four-year-old boy with the Italian actress Lory del Santo named Conor. He describes his son as “the one thing in my life that good could come from.” The impossible happened while Conor was playing in her mother’s friend’s apartment on the 53rd floor of a New-York building. 
The janitor was cleaning the floor and windows, and one window was still open. Conor was so excited to see his father, who was coming to see him, that he ran everywhere in the apartment, escaped the nurse’s supervision, slipped on the freshly-washed floor, and fell to his death through the open window he used to look at every day. Eric Clapton was one of the first who came to the traumatizing scene and locked himself up for plenty of months before reappearing publicly.


And when he did in 1992, he performed “Tears in Heaven” on British television for the first time, and everyone was shocked. This song is part of the soundtrack of the movie “Rush.” He later released it, and it went crazy, reaching the top 2 on the Billboard charts in the US and top 1 in many countries. He won many prizes for this song, like the Grammy Awards for the best song and best recording of 1993.
These prizes are nothing compared to the pain he felt, but the fact that he used music to go through his grief is something I find beautiful and inspiring for many people.


This story teaches us that whatever you’re going through, no matter the circumstances, the pain, or the overall situation, there is always a way to let it go and gain relief. Either by creating something artistic (music, drawing, dancing…) or by doing something that touches your heart, something tangible that will take the pain away.
 
           To conclude this story, I encourage you to look up Eric Clapton’s musical career, as it is one of the most amazing yet inspiring music that you can hear.

Hugo Lhomedet

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