Eric Clapton tires of lucrative life on the road

The legendary guitar player says he may quit touring in 2015, when he turns 70.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 1, 2013 5:33PM
Eric Clapton performing at the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec. 12, 2012 (Dave Allocca/Starpix/AP Photo)Eric Clapton, whose guitar playing has influenced generations of musicians, is hinting that he wants to retire from touring when he turns 70 in 2015, according to Rolling Stone.

"The bit onstage, that's easy," Clapton told the magazine. "But for me, the struggle is the travel. And the only way you can beat that is by throwing so much money at it that you make a loss."

Clapton's move has financial consequences. When he started out during the 1960s, rock musicians made most of their money from record sales. Now, their main source of income comes from touring. A Princeton University paper pointed out that the income from touring exceeded income from record sales by a ratio of 7.5 to 1 in 2002.   

Touring is so lucrative that bands who reportedly don't get along with one another, such as The Police, were willing to set aside their differences for a big payday. The concert business, though, isn't immune from the issues affecting the broader economy. Revenue for the top concert tours in 2012 was $3 billion, down slightly from $3.07 billion in 2011, according to a Los Angeles Times story, citing data from Pollstar. 

Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, told MSN in an interview that he expects the industry to generate at least as much revenue this year.

Many of last year's top-grossing acts featured artists who were older than Clapton, such as  69-year-old Roger Waters, the creative force behind Pink Floyd; Beatle Paul McCartney, 70; and 68-year-old Rod Stewart. Most musicians seem to never tire of the road. Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie is one of the few classic rockers who have retired.

"A lot of musicians have surprised themselves that they can go out and work and there is demand to see them," Bongiovanni said.
Clapton, who has been successful both as a solo artist and a member of groups such as "Cream" and "Blind Faith," clearly isn't hurting financially. Celebrity Net Worth pegs his fortune at $200 million. Though Clapton travels in the comfort and style befitting a rock star, he can't escape all of the hassles of modern travel, such as airport security.

"I never get it right," Clapton, whom some call "Slow Hand," told the magazine when discussing security. "I forget to take off my belt, or I have change in my pocket. . . I just don't want to do that anymore."

His frustration, of course, is shared by many members of the traveling public.

The guitarist, who has battled drug addiction and the tragic death of his young son, is in the midst of a worldwide tour to support his 21st album, "Old Sock." He isn't planning to quit performing entirely if he goes through with his retirement plans.

--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr

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Mar 3, 2013 10:55AM
Looking 4ward to see u eric at MSG
Mar 2, 2013 12:55AM

Why does he need more money? At his age, he'll never spend what he already has.

Hey Eric, do a goodbye tour and fix ticket prices at $6, like it was in the early 70s .I've still got a ticket stubb of one of yours and it's face value is $7.50.

we can speak to each other without using insulting comments....let's be kind to each other
Mar 1, 2013 11:22PM
Mr. Clapton,

You're worth almost a quarter billion. Get a plane.
Mar 2, 2013 11:17PM

Old Rockers, don't die.....They just Rock-on...


( are you jabbering about ??)

Mar 2, 2013 1:57PM
"Christine McVie is one of the few classic rockers who have retired..."  I wonder.  When PBS does it's Doo-Wop, 60's, and 70's reunions you see classic rockers who haven't been in the news for decades - and some sound like they haven't sung for decades.

Of course THE definitive classic voice who paved the way for low-pitched female rock singers, Beverly Bivens of We Five (You Were On My Mind, High Flying Bird, etc.), sadly got married in the 1960's, got into avant-guard jazz for a while and then disappeared to raise kids, and didn't resurface until 2009.  She can sing from high soprano to low tenor and her vocal range was (is?) so wide, vibrant, and on key (in the days before autotune!) people wondered if it was the same lead-singer doing all the songs on We Five's first two albums.  I wish she'd do a tour.
Mar 2, 2013 1:28AM
Hang it up if you have to name your album "Old Sock".
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