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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 14:49 GMT
Musician Clapton delighted by CBE
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton rose to fame in the Yardbirds
Influential guitarist and songwriter Eric Clapton has said being made a CBE at Buckingham Palace was the "icing on the cake" of his career.

The 59-year-old was given the honour by the Princess Royal as part of the New Year's Honours list.

He said that during his youth he would have rejected the CBE due to his "rebellious streak", but that he was now "grown up" enough to accept it.

"I think it is an important thing to be able to set an example," he said.

The musician was a member of the band Cream before going on to have a successful solo career with songs such as Layla and Wonderful Tonight.

Support for royals

He added that he felt his earlier anti-establishment views were "immature", and said: "To say 'I did this all my life because I loved it' and to be recognised for that in this part of my life is good.

"I remember when the Beatles gave theirs back. At one time of life I probably would have identified with that, but I don't now."

The musician, who was made an OBE in 1994, said he thought his honour was for his musical "tenacity", but also for his support for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes.

He also spoke of his support for the Queen and her family. "I am a real royalist too - I have the greatest of respect for the Royal Family. It is a great thing for me."

Addiction troubles

He was accompanied to the palace by his wife, Melia McEnery, who he said was expecting their third child. The couple already have two young daughters.

Clapton rose to fame in the Yardbirds in the 1960s and as a member of Cream, he recorded rock covers of blues numbers including Crossroads and Born Under a Bad Sign.

He then went on to record Layla under the name Derek and the Dominos, written about his first wife Patty Boyd.

But with his early success came an addiction to alcohol and heroin, with Clapton admitting he spent 1,500 a week on drugs and drank at least two bottles of vodka a day.

He conquered his addictions in 1982 with the help of a treatment centre in the Caribbean, which he continues to support through fundraising.

Tribute to son

He went on to have a string of successful albums under his own name, and his MTV Unplugged session sold more than 15 million copies in 1992.

But in 1991 his son, four-year-old Connor, died after he fell from the 53rd-floor window of a New York apartment.

Clapton went on to write the hit track Tears in Heaven as a tribute to his son.

He married American Ms McEnery on New Year's Day, 2002.

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