A tragic loss inspired the lyrics to this Grammy Award-winning song
Eric Clapton, arguably one of the most iconic rock singers and guitarists of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, struggled for years to kick drug and alcohol addictions, according to Eric Clapton's website. Despite repeated attempts at rehab, he had been mostly unsuccessful, until the birth of his son Conor in August of 1986, according to a video posted by Tom Kovats.
"When he was born, I was drinking. And he was really the chief reason I went back to treatment. Because I really did love this boy. I thought, 'I know he's like a little baby but he can see me, and he can see what I'm doing and I ... I'm tired of this,' " Clapton explains in the CBS video.
In March of 1991, at just 4 years old, Conor fell from a condominium picture window in New York City, and died. Conflicting sources say the condominium was on the 49th or the 53rd floor. The police reported that a janitor had come to the apartment and opened the window to clean it. The housekeeper told police that Conor had run past her before she could close the window, according to The New York Times.
"I heard the nanny and she was running right behind him. But as Conor ran into the room where the janitor was cleaning, the janitor stopped her to tell her that he had slid open the window — a huge wall of glass. In the second she stopped to listen to what he was saying, Conor ran straight through the window. I heard a dreadful scream but it wasn't Conor. It was the nanny. I ran into the room, shouting more and more hysterically, 'Where's Conor, where's Conor?' Then I saw the open window and I understood at once," Lory Del Santo, Conor's mother, said according to an unofficial Eric Clapton website.
Police investigated the building owners to find out if they had violated a state law requiring a window guard in a home with a child under 12, according to The Times. According to Snopes, a 1984 ruling exempted condominiums from the law requiring a barrier at the window and left the decision up to owners to install.
Just days after his son's funeral, Clapton received a letter in London that his son had written while they were visiting in New York. In the letter Conor told his dad that he missed him and wanted him to come over, according to Sharon Rakker.
Following the death of Conor, Clapton threw himself into his work including work on three songs for the film "Rush." One of those songs, "Tears in Heaven," was written as a way to cope with Conor's death. The song won a Grammy Award, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
The lyrics: "Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven; Would it be the same, if I saw you in heaven. I must be strong, and carry one, 'cause I know I don't belong here in heaven." speak to Clapton's grief.
"It asked a very pertinent question. Because I don't really know ... and I'm always wondering whether ... we meet people again," Clapton told reporters according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
§ sharon1110rakker via YouTube, Ultimate Classic Rock, Tom Kovats via YouTube, Eric Clapton, New York Post, and Eric Clapton, the Unofficial Website