Below is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RS 615 from October 17, 1991. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone's premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.
Nineteen ninety-one was supposed to have been a holiday for Eric Clapton. After spending the better part of the past two years on the road, playing everywhere from Africa and South America to the United States and Europe, Clapton was ready for a rest. More important, though, he was going to spend some much-needed quality time with his son, Conor.
That all changed on March 20th, when the four-and-a-half-year-old boy fell to his death from the fifty-third floor of the Manhattan apartment where he lived with his mother, the Italian actress Lori Del Santo. Clapton was in New York at the time of the accident, but he retreated shortly thereafter to his home outside London, where he remained in virtual isolation. Toward the middle of the summer, however, he began venturing back into the public eye. He was photographed with Tatum O'Neal, taking in John McEnroe's match at Wimbledon. The tabloids have also kept a running tab on his alleged liaisons, most recently linking him with Cher. "It's very funny," Clapton said, when a copy of the paper was spotted in a wastebasket during the course of this interview. "In the English papers, it said, 'Cher finds her bel ami,' or something. I mean, we had dinner! I had read an interview in England where she said she liked listening to my music, and I'd seen her on TV, and she seemed like a very settled, coherent lady. So we had dinner. And that was it.
"But I think these journalists probably feel sorry for me," he continued. "They're trying to marry me off. If they see me with a girl, they think, 'Ah, Eric finds happiness.' There's a side of it that is very sweet. And I kind of feel touched by it, because I'm not really sure that I'm looking for comfort or a steady relationship. I just like the company of beautiful women. I have a weakness in that department. And I suppose because I am fairly well off and a famous musician, I'm up for grabs. And that makes me an eligible bachelor in the press."
Sitting in the same hotel where he'd been when he heard the news of his son's death, Clapton chainsmoked cigarettes and sipped coffee as he talked publicly for the first time about the tragedy. Dressed in a green polo shirt and jeans, he seemed healthy and relaxed; he answered every question without hesitation.
The interview came at a time when Clapton was resuming his musical career with a flurry of projects. A few days earlier, it had been announced that he and his longtime friend George Harrison would be undertaking a joint tour starting this December in Japan. The tour would mark the first time the former Beatle had been on the road since a nightmarish solo jaunt in 1974.