Hidden within the thousands and thousands of embassy memos that were released in WikiLeaks' latest controversial batch of government agency communications is one name The Amp is familiar with: Eric Clapton. According to the Guardian, the guitar god comes up in a cable from former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow, who was discussing the South Korea-North Korea rift: "Arranging an Eric Clapton concert in Pyongyang could also be useful, given Kim Jong-il's second son's devotion to the rock legend."
Communist North Korea is notoriously insulated and shuts out all Western influences, but Kim Jong-il's son Kim Jong-Chol was educated in Europe, and in 2006, it was reported that the onetime heir to the North Korean throne, "a die-hard Clapton fan," secretly attended all four of Clapton's concerts in Germany while Jong-Chol was at school in neighboring Switzerland. That's a lot of "Layla."
In February 2008, North Korea actually extended an invitation for Clapton to play Pyongyang. Ironically, "the official" who gave Fox News the scoop in 2008 that a Clapton show would "be a good opportunity for Western music to be understood better by Koreans" seems to echo Vershbow's own cables, which reiterate "the performance could be an opportunity to build good will." Although initial reports said that Slowhand was plotting a 2009 North Korean gig, the concert never happened, and Kim Jong-il and his Clapton-loving son were deprived of live performances of "Cocaine" and "After Midnight."
[Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images]
- Eric Clapton
- South Korea Alexander Vershbow