Guitarist Eric Clapton performs in concert at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Guitarist Eric Clapton performs in concert at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

Rock legends slam global COVID lockdowns

Music icons Eric Clapton and Van Morrison have joined forces to write and record a new anti-lockdown song "Stand and Deliver", in a bid to save the flailing live music industry.

Written by Morrison and performed by Clapton, the track is in support of Morrison's Save Live Music campaign.

"I'm not telling people what to do or think, the government is doing a great job of that already," the 75-year-old singer said in a statement.

"It's about freedom of choice, I believe people should have the right to think for themselves."

Proceeds will go to Morrison's Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund, which assists musicians facing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus and resulting lockdown measures.

Van Morrison has spoken out against global lockdowns. Picture: AP
Van Morrison has spoken out against global lockdowns. Picture: AP

Stand and Deliver, which will be released on December 4,is the latest song Morrison has worked on that protests the UK lockdown, with Born To Be Free, As I Walked Out, and No More Lockdown arriving in September and October.

Morrison has been campaigning for a reopening of music venues at full capacity, with the statement noting that he "feels strongly" that the ongoing lockdown presents a threat to the future of live music venues.

The UK has allowed some socially distanced shows since August 1, but, as in the US, there have been few other shows since the pandemic caused a worldwide lockdown in March.

"There are many of us who support Van and his endeavours to save live music; he is an inspiration," Clapton added.

 

Legendary musician Eric Clapton has backed up his friend, Van Morrison. Picture: Supplied
Legendary musician Eric Clapton has backed up his friend, Van Morrison. Picture: Supplied

 

"We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover."

"Eric's recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with the many who share our frustrations," said Morrison.

"It is heartbreaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry."

BORIS FACES BACKLASH FROM OWN PARTY

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appealed to rebellious members of his own party as parliament prepared to vote on tough new COVID restrictions to replace an England-wide lockdown.

The month-long stay-at-home order ends at midnight local time (11am AEDT) and the Conservative government plans to restore regionalised restrictions, depending on coronavirus rates in different parts of the country.

While London will escape the tightest "Tier 3" rules, more than 23 million people will fall into the category, including in some affluent Conservative-held constituencies, forcing hospitality and leisure facilities to remain closed.

Mr Johnson said the onset of vaccines and mass testing would "allow us to reclaim our lives" but until then, "we cannot afford to relax, especially during the cold months of winter".

"All we need to do now is to hold our nerve until these vaccines are indeed in our grasp and being injected into our arms," he told the House of Commons before the vote on the new tiers later Tuesday.

Senior minister Michael Gove said "we are all too grimly aware" of the impact on struggling businesses, as the collapse of two retail groups threw the future of 25,000 jobs into doubt.

But interviewed on BBC radio, he stressed: "What would the effect be on the economy if the NHS (National Health Service) was overwhelmed?" Isolated hot spots mean entire counties are due to enter Tier 3, despite their infection rates remaining below the English average.

That has prompted outrage from dozens of Conservative MPs, who are threatening to vote against the plan.

Mr Johnson, however, said future changes would make the tiered restrictions more "granular" and that they will be subject to reviews every two weeks from mid-December.

He also announced new cash support for pubs forced to close unless they can offer a "substantial meal", although government ministers have given differing interpretations of whether that includes snacks such as Scotch eggs.

Gove pointed to the experience of the devolved government in Wales, which he said is having to "slam the brakes on again" with fresh curbs on hospitality venues after a two-week lockdown last month.

Britain has been Europe's worst-hit country during the pandemic, recording more than 58,000 deaths from some 1.6 million cases

Originally published as Rock legends slam global COVID lockdowns


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