Born Eric Patrick Clapp, (30 March 1945, Ripley, Surrey, England).
On 5 August 1976, Clapton provoked an uproar and lingering controversy when he spoke out against increasing immigration during a concert in Birmingham. Clapton voiced his support of controversial political candidate Enoch Powell, and announced on stage that Britain was in danger of becoming a "black colony". Among other things, Clapton said "Keep Britain white!" which was at the time a National Front (NF) slogan.
Full quote: "Vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch's our man. I think Enoch's right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Vote for Enoch, he's our man, he's on our side, he'll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he's on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!"
This incident, along with some controversial remarks made around the same time by David Bowie, as well as uses of Nazi-related imagery by Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux, were the main catalysts for the creation of Rock Against Racism, with a concert on 30 April 1978.
In response to the comments, rock photographer Red Saunders and others published an open letter in NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, and the Socialist Worker. It read "Come on Eric... Own up. Half your music is black. You're rock music's biggest colonist". It concluded, "P.S. Who shot the Sheriff, Eric? It sure as hell wasn't you!"
In a 2004 interview with Uncut, Clapton referred to Powell as "outrageously brave". He complained that the UK was "... inviting people in as cheap labour and then putting them in ghettos". In a December 2007 interview with Melvyn Bragg on The South Bank Show, Clapton reiterated his support for Enoch Powell and again denied that Powell's views were racist.