Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton joined Van Morrison for the singer-songwriter's latest song against coronavirus lockdown measures in the U.K. Proceeds from the song, titled "Stand and Deliver," will go to a fund Morrison established to help musicians struggling during lockdown measures that have forced music venues to close. Morrison rolled out three anti-lockdown songs earlier this fall, including one in which he called the U.K. government "fascist bullies."
Clapton, best known for hits like "Cocaine," "My Father's Eyes" and "Layla," called the lockdown restrictions "deeply unsettling" in a statement to Variety. “There are many of us who support Van and his endeavors to save live music; he is an inspiration,” the three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer said. “We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover.”
Morrison called Clapton's recording of his song "fantastic" and said it will "clearly resonate" with those who agree with their frustrations. "It is heartbreaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry," the "Moondance" singer said.
Clapton and Morrison's song comes as the U.K. sees a rise in coronavirus cases. The government recently said it is going back to a three-tier lockdown system to determine restrictions after a nationwide lockdown ends on Dec. 2. London, Liverpool, and some other cities will be in the second tier, meaning fewer restrictions. More than 57,000 U.K. residents have died from the coronavirus.
In September and October, Morrison released three digital-exclusive singles protesting the lockdown measures, "Born to be Free," "As I Walked Out" and "No More Lockdown." In "No More Lockdown," Morrison called for the end of "government overreach" and "no more fascist bullies." He also sings, "No more taking of our freedom. And our God-given rights. Pretending it's for our safety when it's really to enslave."
Earlier this month, Morrison launched his Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund to help musicians struggling because of the lockdown measures. He also launched a petition calling for the government to confirm support for musicians and provide a timeline for when performing can resume. "Venues have spent millions of pounds on the implementation of additional safety measures in order to operate in line with government guidance, only to now be shut down again," reads a statement on his website. "With no end to restrictions in sight, Van is calling for the government to work with the live music sector to approve applied safety measures allowing the recommencement of live music."