Columbus hosts Eric Clapton tribute show that Eric Clapton would boycott

A Clapton cover show requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is a very, very funny development

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Eric Clapton

Over the last year, Eric Clapton has emerged as a loud, cantankerous and ill-informed source of vaccine distrust. Most recently, the guitarist and third-most talented member from the classic rock trio Cream described recipients of the coronavirus vaccine as victims of "mass formation hypnosis."

“I didn’t get the memo, whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me. Then I started to realize there was really a memo,” said Clapton, who is vaccinated. “It’s great. The theory of mass formation hypnosis. And I could see it then. Once I kind of started to look for it, I saw it everywhere."

Clapton's theory will be tested by a tribute concert scheduled for the Athenaeum Theatre on Friday, Feb. 11. Dubbed "Journeyman plays the music of Eric Clapton '30th Anniversary of Unplugged,'" the show envisions a public somehow still enraptured en masse by a treacly acoustic take on "Layla" more than three decades after Clapton first defanged the song for MTV.

One person who actually might not approve of the gig, though? Clapton himself.

The Athenaeum concert stipulates that all attendees produce either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test — a requirement old Slowhand has repeatedly spoken publicly against in between recording anti-lockdown songs such as "Stand and Deliver" alongside the even more comically curmudgeonly Van Morrison.

“I wish to say that I will not perform on any stage where there is a discriminated audience present," Clapton said in July 2021. "Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”

Or in this case, at least, to not attend.