Role Models & Heroes: Eric Clapton (2010)

By June 26, 2010 November 15th, 2018 Bnei Mitzvah, Heroes & Role Models
The following essay on Eric Clapton was written by Nicky Young, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; an example of this can be seen below. The process  improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.

Nicky Young
June 13, 2010

What is a hero? Is it someone who uses supernatural powers to save the world from utter destruction, or your ordinary person who saves a child from a burning building? Heroes are all around us, though we don’t see them because their x-ray vision and super-strength is non-existent. It is their bravery to do what is right that we see.

Now, what is a role model? A role model is like a hero, but not everyone can be a hero. Role models are people who do good things and are people who you would want to live your life like. Heroes can certainly be role models but a “hero” like Superman isn’t necessarily a role model. Role models are role models because they inspire people to do great things for the sake of doing them. Role models don’t ask for anything in return. They just do.

Eric Clapton is my hero and role model. Not only is Clapton one of my favorite guitarists, but he has also has gone through a lot of tragedies in his life and after much perseverance has come out healthy and still rocking.

Clapton was born believing that his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister. His mother was too young to raise him and as it was, she didn’t want him. From a young age Clapton felt unloved and confused and for a young boy growing up in the 1940’s, this was not good. He was finally saved by his discovery of the guitar. From then on Clapton poured all his emotion and physical being into the guitar and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Eventually people started the saying “Clapton is god”. This didn’t settle too well with Clapton who would have much rather been a side musician. From his days as “god” in England he went on to join the Yardbirds, and later started the bands Derek and the Dominoes, Cream, and Blind Faith and finally became a solo musician.

I think that Clapton is a good role model because not only is he an amazing guitarist, but he has overcome severe addictions, divorces, and the death of his child. Over the years Clapton had become addicted to heroin and alcohol and while he kicked his habit for heroin, his drinking became worse. During this period of severe drinking he also married George Harrison’s ex-wife, Pattie Boyd. Pattie was the love of his life but the marriage would not last forever. They grew apart due to Clapton’s constant touring and his horrible alcoholism. The break up devastated Clapton and he was drinking even more excessively.

Finally something in him snapped, and he knew he had to stop. He went through many different rehabs and after several trials, he finally became sober. After 2 years of sobriety, he was hit with the worst news possible – his 4 year old son, Conor, from his relationship with Lori Del Santo, had fallen out of the window of their 53rd floor apartment. The news hit Clapton like a sledgehammer to the chest, but he didn’t return to his drinking habits.

Clapton now lives with his new wife and children and is still performing. Not only has Clapton stayed sober for years, he has opened up a successful rehabilitation center for alcoholics, called The Crossroads.

While there are many qualities of Eric Clapton that aren’t the best for a role model, I think that his great characteristics outweigh the bad. He and I share some of the same values: hard work, humility, trying to find yourself, courage, humor, and of course, creativity. We both believe in music. While Clapton was going through rehab, instead of picking God as his higher power, he chose music. As I said in my values paper, “Whenever I’m sad, I just pick up my guitar and I walk away feeling better.” This is essentially what Clapton did when he was trying to become sober. Not only do I look up to him as a musician, but I also look up to him as a person. He had a childhood most people would be shocked by, he developed severe addictions, a couple of wives left him, and his son died. He emerged from these tragedies sober and helping others. That is why Eric Clapton is my hero and role model.