20 Years Ago: Eric Clapton Saves His Guitars From a House Fire
What’s the first thing you’d save if you came home and found your house on fire? Eric Clapton found himself forced to answer that question on May 25, 1996 — and he didn’t have to think long before he found the answer.
Returning home to his London townhouse, Clapton found the top floor ablaze. Presumably after pausing for a moment or two to make sure the authorities were notified, he rushed in to rescue his guitar collection. “The first I knew about the fire was when I came back from a day out, opened the front door and smoke billowed out,” he told reporters at the time. “The first thing I did was grab my guitars. None of them was damaged.”
The fire, which he described as “terrible, too terrible,” was later attributed to a faulty lighting circuit. It almost completely destroyed the top floor of Clapton’s townhouse, but he — and his guitars — escaped serious harm.
Clapton took another opportunity to display his attachment to the collection three years later, after he announced plans to auction off 100 of his guitars in order to raise money for his Crossroads treatment facility — only to come to the conclusion that he didn’t want to lose them all. In order to save one particular guitar, he admitted he’d be bidding in his own auction.
“I’ve realized there is one that I just can’t part with so I will be bidding in secret for it. It is not a very expensive guitar but I would pay a reasonable price for it as I really want to hold on to it,” he told the Independent. “It is a guitar that’s been around my house for years and I’ve picked it up in times of great stress, like a comfort blanket.”
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