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13 November 2014

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Eric Clapton (C) Malcolm Bassett-Smith

Clapton plays Martley

The weird and wonderful story of how a lost bet led to rock legend Eric Clapton playing a gig at a pub in Worcestershire.

One of the most surreal evenings anyone is likely to recall took place 20 years ago, in the summer of 1987.

England cricket legend Ian Botham was the star of New Road, having joined Worcestershire the winter before, and was also mates with superstars like Elton John, George Harrison, Bill Wyman and Eric Clapton.

Ian Botham

Another boundary for Beefy

At the time, Botham was living in a house mid-way between the villages of Knightwick, Martley and Whitbourne, and his local watering hole was the Crown at Martley, where, to be honest, he was treated like any one of the regulars by the landlord John and landlady Olive.

Worcestershire were at home to Essex, and Martley, slightly down the cricketing scale, were at home to Heenans, in a PLJ League game on this particular Saturday.

It rained and Worcestershire's game was off, as was the game at Martley.

Botham had a bet with Eric Clapton, a bet which 'Beefy' won, and the forfeit was that Clapton would play free at an event of Botham's choice.

That event was the wedding of the landlord and landlady's son!

No gear

Clapton had his guitar but no amps, speakers etc., so he rang a local music shop, said to be Music City in Worcester.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

The guy said he could organise all the equipment at short notice, but who needed it.

'Eric Clapton' came the reply, and the shop-man thought it was very funny, until ten minutes later when Eric Clapton walked through the door of his shop.

Clapton got the kit to Martley, and set up in the back room, with Stan Webb from Chicken Shack playing alongside him.

Crowd of captains

Most of the Essex and Worcestershire cricket teams were there, including four England captains: Hussein, Gooch, Fletcher and Botham - and of course the Martley Cricket team!

It was one of those nights, and most people joined in the songs.

Eric forgot the words to Layla, but played most of the night, and the evening deteriorated, due to imbibing the local juices.

The Essex team, all the worse for wear from the night out, were hammered by Worcestershire the next day, and I.T. Botham clubbed them for a century.

He had also scraped the paint off the side of Eric's yellow Ferrari on the gatepost getting into the New Road car-park.

The next day I went to go in the Crown at lunchtime, when one of the locals asked if "that Alec Clapham was gonna be making a row again"!.

If you have a story about gigs you've seen in Herefordshire or Worcester, or about meeting a rock music legend, then we'd love to hear you story, and include it in our Music Map.

last updated: 19/11/2008 at 12:19
created: 03/11/2008

You are in: Hereford and Worcester > Entertainment > Friday Session > Music map > Clapton plays Martley

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