‘I Still Do’ Artist Eric Clapton On His Mysterious Collaborator And On Saying Goodbye

Eric Clapton is back again with a new studio album. Much like his two previous releases –Old Sock (2013) and The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale(2014)- Clapton’s latest album, I Still Do, is a nostalgic celebration of his life, his musical influences, and a memorializing of his family.

The I Still Do title for the album came from a conversation Eric shared with an aunt, who passed away just two years ago. From there, I Still Do delves even deeper into Clapton’s life and, speaking about what influenced this album, Old Slowhand talks about his mysteriously unnamed collaborators and the possibility that at age 71, it might be time to consider retirement. Maybe.

I Still Do Artist Eric Clapton On The Angelo Mysterioso Mystery

For devoted Eric Clapton fans eager to learn all they can about this new release, they might notice a guest collaborator, Angelo Mysterioso, has been credited for acoustic guitar and vocals on the song “I Will There”. Conspiracy theorists might wonder if this track was something left over by Clapton’s one-time collaborator, George Harrison, who has been deceased for 15 years. Harrison contributed to a song on one of Clapton’s albums many years ago and, due to other contractual obligations, couldn’t be directly credited for the song. Instead, Eric assigned a pseudonym, one that bears a striking resemblance to the new Angelo Mysterioso moniker.

Mr. Clapton says such an idea strikes him as a “really sweet” thought, but denies that it is true. Instead, Clapton says the current collaborator’s record label doesn’t want him associated with Eric Clapton and that’s why he has revived the Angelo Mysterioso name.

“I like the idea that people will speculate,” says Eric. “They might get it right. They might get it wrong. But I’m not going to say. I gave my word.”

Eric Clapton May Be Saying Goodbye With A Little Help From Billie Holliday

Clapton is getting older. He feels it physically and emotionally. Even though he still feels the passion for making music and for playing to his fans, Eric says he no longer feels able to give the adrenaline rushed performances of his younger days. Clapton was once a powerhouse of energy, hitting the stage every day and playing on into the evening, while never losing the beat, but the I Still Do artist says those days are well behind him.

I was a young man with a passion. I don’t know that guy anymore at all,” says Eric. “But I know where the music came from and I can tap into a point where I think it’s OK.”

Mr. Clapton has talked about possibly retiring on previous occasions, remarking that he would prefer to leave his career on his own terms, as opposed to being forced off stage by a dwindling fanbase or a debilitating illness. In the wake of so many deaths of legendary musical artists, such as names like David Bowie and Prince, who are only the more recent losses, Clapton has had to come to terms with his own mortality, facing the loss of his own mentors J.J. Cale and B.B. King.

In light of so much loss, it seems the last track on I Still Do may hold some special meaning for Clapton, a secret message from the artist to his fans. That last song on Eric’s album is a cover of “I’ll Be Seeing You,” popularized by Billie Holliday, and it may be Clapton’s own way of announcing his departure from a lifetime of creating music.

“It’s one of those things that’s been haunting me,” Clapton said. “I love the song and I love the sentiment. Just in case I don’t cut another record, this is how I feel. I kind of might be saying goodbye. But I’ve been doing that for a while.”

[Image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Clear Channel]