Monday night in New York City, U2 bass player Adam Clayton received the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award from MusiCares, the charitable arm of the Recording Academy.
The award is given to music industry people who help others in the industry recover from addiction, and Clayton, now sober, has done that, through work with MusiCares’ Musicians’ Assistance Program. In his speech, he thanked not only U2 for helping him through his addiction, but also two other legendary rockers.
Clayton, who started his speech by joking, “I’m not used to achieving anything on my own…this is very unusual!” revealed that that after a couple of major benders, Eric Clapton, a former addict himself, called the bass player and told him enough was enough.
“He didn’t sugarcoat it. He told me I had to change my life and that I wouldn’t regret it,” said Clayton. “He gave me the name of a treatment center and the power to make the call to them.”
During his rehab program, Clayton recalled, The Who’s Pete Townshend, another former addict, visited him and gave him further encouragement.
“These two talents were enough to get me started,” he said, “And convince me my life wasn’t over, but that I was at the start of a long journey to learn to love myself.”
Adam also expressed his gratitude to Bono, Larry Mullen Jr. and The Edge, saying, “We have a pact with each other. In our band, no one will be a casualty…No one will be left behind. Thank you for honoring that promise and letting me be in your band.”
Clayton ended his speech by quoting U2’s “I Will Follow,” and then joined his band mates for three songs, including that one, as well as “Vertigo” and “Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.”
On the red carpet, Clayton also talked about U2’s current tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 1987 album The Joshua Tree.
“It’s amazing,” he told reporters. “Who would have thought that at this stage, we could come back with a record that we put out 30 years ago, and it could seem as fresh and as relevant as 30 years ago?”
During the 2017 MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit, hosted by Cat Deeley, other artists were personally invited by Adam to play their own songs, and to pay tribute to U2. Among them:
Michael Franti — “Television, The Drug of the Nation,” a Franti song U2 used to open their Zoo TV tour, as well as U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and his own “11:59.”
The Lumineers — U2’s “One” and “Stubborn Love”
Jack Garratt — “The Love You’re Given,” “Worry” and U2’s “The Sweetest Thing”
Macy Gray — “My Way,” “I Try” and U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
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