Playing Music for Angels and Devils, Clapton Anecdote

Eric Clapton, whose “Crossroads” with Cream is the only later version to include the line about Willie Brown and achieves an intensity and power of its own, must have thought long and hard about the Johnson legend. After an extended bout with heroin addiction, he reemerged in the early seventies playing in a more restrained, less bluesy style. In 1974, Rolling Stone interviewer Steve Turner asked him if the change in his music reflected a change in attitude, and instead of answering the question directly, he told Turner a story. “Once with the Dominos [a post-Cream Clapton group] , we dropped some acid in San Francisco,” he said, “and apart from the fact that the guitar was made of rubber, every bad lick I had, every naughty lick, blues lick whatever you want to call it, turned the audience into all these devils in sort of red coats and things. And then I’d play a sweet one, and they all turned into angels. I prefer playing to angels, personally.”

Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta
Robert Palmer