Remembering Clapton’s Rainbow Concert

Album Cover

37 years ago today, Clapton made his official return to the stage after three years of drug induced confinement. After battling a vicious heroin addiction, during which he performed only once at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, Clapton reemerged at the Rainbow Concert. With Blackie in hand (for the first time ever), Clapton took the stage, playing a soulful show that removed him from his state of drug-induced isolation, and brought him back to where he belongs – the stage.

The Rainbow Concert marked Clapton’s return, and went on to spur Clapton’s recovery from heroin. This show would set him on the creative path which would lead to the eventual release of 461 Ocean Blvd, one of Clapton’s finest albums. The idea for the concert was devised by Pete Townshend, and was carried out at the storied Rainbow Theatre located in Finsbury Park in London. Musicians by the likes of Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood and Pete Townshend accompanied Clapton in his return to the stage. Clapton returns to the stage once again on a North American/European tour starting Feb. 18. Click here for the full list of dates.

“Badge” 1.13.73

“Little Wing” 1.13.73

“Presence of the Lord” 1.13.73


2 thoughts on “Remembering Clapton’s Rainbow Concert

  1. there has always been some misinformation regarding clapton’s health and this show. while it was true that townshead came to clapton in the depths of his addiction in an effort to clean him up, it was not this show that led to clapton kicking his heroin habbit. it seems that the common perception is that townshead came to clapton’s house and told him he needed to play this show, clapton cleaned up to play it, and he was clean after that. this is not at all the truth. clapton did not clean up for this show or immediately after. he writes in his book that he was stoned out of his head on H for this show and retreated back in to seclusion afterward.

    clapton did not clean up until the father of his girlfriend threatened to turn him into the police if he did not quit. this occured several months after the charity show.

    while it’s a nice storty that clapton cleaned up to play this show at townshead’s insistence, it just isn’t true.

    • dustin, thanks for the comment. But, no where in the article does it say clapton was remotely sober for this show, nor would anyone who has heard the show think that. This was, however, Clapton’s first show in years, and removed him from his isolated state – as the article indicates. While he may have retreated back to it for it a period afterward, this was this first show, and brought Clapton back to practicing, composing, and playing – even “if on a limited level”.
      I’ve read the book, I know what it says. This show is important in every regard. It’s more than just a nice story.

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