Eric Clapton's Infamous Racist Rant Resurfaces Amid Lockdown Protest Song Backlash

After Eric Clapton joined forces with Van Morrison to record a song protesting the U.K. coronavirus lockdown measures, Clapton's infamous racist rant at a concert in 1976 resurfaced on social media. During a show in August 1976, Clapton infamously urged his audience to support right-wing politician Enoch Powell and told "foreigners" in the audience to "just leave" the U.K. Clapton eventually apologized for the comments, but not until 2018.

During the show at an arena in Birmingham, England, Clapton asked the crowd if there were any "foreigners" attending and asked them to raise their hands. "If so, please put up your hands... So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave," Clapton said, reports InsideHook. "Not just leave the hall, leave our country... I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country." The "Cocaine" singer said the government should "send them all back" and "stop Britain from becoming a Black colony."

"The Black w— and c— and Arabs and f— Jamaicans don’t belong here, we don’t want them here," Clapton continued. "This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any Black w— and c— living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for White people, man … This is Great Britain, a White country, what is happening to us, for f—’s sake? … Throw the w— out! Keep Britain White!"

Clapton initially stood by his comments when later confronted by them. The comments were so controversial at the time they inspired the Rock Against Racism movement. During a Q&A session after the screening of Life in 12 Bars, Clapton apologized, The Daily Mail reported at the time. "I sabotaged everything I got involved with," Clapton said in the mid-1970s. "I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn't make sense. Half of my friends were Black, I dated a Black woman and I championed Black music."

Last week, Variety reported that Clapton signed on to join Morrison in recording "Stand and Deliver." Proceeds from the single will go to a foundation Morrison started to help musicians struggling during the pandemic. In a statement to Variety, Clapton called the U.K.'s lockdown restrictions "deeply unsettling" and he voiced support for Morrison, whom he called an inspiration. “We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess," Clapton said. "The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover."