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Sunday, June 27, 1999 Published at 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK


Eric Clapton admits abusing wife

Eric Clapton: First sought treatment in 1982

Guitar legend Eric Clapton has said for the first time that at the height of his alcohol and drug addiction he abused his wife.

In an interview with the Sunday Times he reveals his downward spiral into addiction, saying he first took drugs as an art student.

By 1969, Clapton was drinking two bottles of vodka a day, and five years later his heroin addiction was costing him £1,500 a week.

He said his years of substance abuse had a devastating effect on his nine-year marriage to Patti Boyd.

'No concern for others'

"I know that when I was a full-blown, practising alcoholic, everyone used to walk around me on eggshells," he says.

Speaking of his abuse of his wife, he said: "I had absolutely no concern for other people at all, and I think that what happens in a family is everyone starts to doctor their own roles to make it bearable to live that way."

The rock star sought treatment in 1982 and is now clean.

Last week he raised more than £3m for his drink and drugs rehabilitation centre in the Caribbean after putting 100 of his favourite guitars up for auction at Christie's in New York.

Afterwards he said: "Thank you on behalf of all the patients who will get free treatment as a result of this sale."

'I'm lucky'

He told the newspaper: "You know, I can look at my disease of alcoholism as being a stigma or being the greatest gift I ever had.

"For me, it's the greatest gift because I didn't know what was wrong with me until I got sober.

"Until then, I thought I was crazy. I thought I was bad, a bad person.

"When I was told I had a disease, I thought, `Okay, so I'm no worse off than someone who has cancer or diabetes. And I'm lucky because I can do something about it, and all I have to do is talk to somebody else'."

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