October 10, 2007
Riding in the Car with Clapton, Dylan, and a Few Others
Greetings to those of you who may be music lovers.
Eric Clapton is one of the most gifted rock & roll singer/songwriter/guitarists of our era. He writes about his life in a new autobiography, and CD entitled simply Clapton.
Eric and I go back a long way, and it’s a story too lengthy to recount here. However, I met him initially through my wife Nedra. Eric and Nedra’s group, the Ronettes, had toured together in concert a number of times.
Eric just recently appeared on the NBC Today Show, and it’s interesting to note the first question from host Matt Lauer to Clapton, “Why are you still here after everything (booze, drugs, death of his son, broken marriage) you have been through?”
I would be presumptuous enough to say that the answer is, at least in part, what I related in an interview conducted with me a few years ago.
(l-r) Eric Clapton, Scott Ross, Mylon LeFevre
Riding in the car with Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan
Q. Scott, you have said previously that Eric Clapton had a conversion experience some years ago. Was this something you heard through others, or was it contact you had with him?
Ross: Eric related to me personally that he had made a commitment to the Lord. However, this has some history attached to it.
In the early '70s, I had attended an Eric Clapton concert in New York City with a writer friend, Al Aronowitz, who was a mutual friend of Bob Dylan’s and Clapton’s. Dylan had also attended the concert. Following the event, Dylan, Clapton, Al and I took a ride in Al’s car. I don’t know how long we rode around and talked, but then Dylan began asking me questions about God. We had known each other previously, and he evidently was aware that I had made a commitment to the Lord.
In the course of the conversation Bob made mention of an album he had just completed at that time, New Morning. Then he said, “Well, wait a minute.” So he told Al to drive around to Bob’s apartment in Greenwich Village. We drove around to the apartment, and Eric, Al, and I sat in the car and waited while Bobby ran upstairs. He came down with the album, which I still have, and he said, “Listen to it. There are a couple things in there about God.” And sure enough, there were some songs in the album overtly referring to God. This was prior to Bob's personal encounter with the Lord and musically preceded his Gospel albums. I just kept praying for him.
Clapton of course was privy to this whole discussion, and in my opinion it planted some seeds in him.
Fast forward, some months later.
One evening, while living in upstate New York in the early 1970s, Nedra and I received a telephone call completely out of the blue from two young men in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My Scott Ross radio show was broadcast in Minneapolis, among other cities, and Eric was doing a concert there at the time. Eric knew Nedra from her Ronettes days when they had toured together. These fellas put Eric on the phone and he began to explain excitedly that he just prayed with these guys for Jesus Christ to come into his life.
Eric and I then made arrangements to get together in New York City where we spent time and then traveled together on his tour discussing what this new Jesus experience for him was all about. His was a real conversion to Jesus Christ.
A lot of events transpired in the years that followed, and I’m personally convinced that the enemy has tried to kill Eric putting him through hell throughout. There's another story behind that I won’t go into; but suffice it to say that another leading guitar player of that era, Jimi Hendrix had been music director and played backup for my wife Nedra's group The Ronettes. Tragically Jimi died Clapton didn’t and I believe God’s kept him.
Eric is a dear man and Nedra and I have prayed for him consistently over the years.
You can get into a whole discussion about people like Eric, Bob Dylan and others who have made commitments to the Lord, and who do not seem to have lived up to those commitments.Then there are some who have grown and matured in the Lord. People like Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary. Noel has called me his personal John the Baptist. Also there’s Dion DiMucci, and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Johnny Cash and Donna Summer among many other public music people who have made commitments to the Lord from that same era and have gone on in God.
All these folks need a lot of prayer. They need that more than they need idolization. Now if the Lord Jesus, in His grace, in His sovereignty, chose these people and gave them new birth, and if they in turn chose to follow Jesus, then you have to pray and trust the seed that God planted takes root.
When Nedra and I talked to Dion DiMucci years ago at a time he was seeking God through drugs and various other kinds of things, we said, “Dion, ask God if He has a Son.” So when Dion was out running one day, he asked God that very question. And the Lord made it very clear to him that Jesus Christ was the son of God, and Dion made a commitment. Dion is still walking that relationship out with God today.
Eric said in an interview recently with USA Today that he still prays twice daily.
So for those of you who believe prayer is still the mightiest force in the world, pray with and for Eric and many others and let's complete this life trip together.
P.S. A statement from Eric's publisher at Broadway books:
"Eric Clapton ... is a man of faith who kneels and prays every day. As he makes clear in his book, he now lives a life of purpose, one in which maintaining his sobriety and helping others to achieve sobriety is his top priority."
Contact Scott Ross