Richard Clapton keeps the party going

Richard Clapton, an enduring voice in Australian music, is most proud of his songwriting feats.
Richard Clapton, an enduring voice in Australian music, is most proud of his songwriting feats.


Saturday Waves, Towradgi

 Sunday Centennial Vineyards

Tickets: 136100

Welcome to the party that never ends.

Entering his fifth decade in the industry, with over 240 songs, nine big radio hits and absolutely no regrets, the ever-enduring Richard Clapton just keeps the music coming.

His songs have borne witness to Australian life, politics and culture over the years.

In what has been a rollercoaster of a ride, two things have kept him going: writing his own songs and his infamous alter ego, Ralph.

"Ah, Ralph, the wild man of rock 'n' roll," Clapton chuckles. "The name originated after a very drunk gig and after-show party, but now I can't get rid of it. It'll probably be on my tombstone."

The ARIA Hall of Fame inductee says having this dual identity has allowed him to remain resilient in the music industry over the decades, keeping separate energies for his private life and for the public and the party-rock scene.

"I put on my [public] entertainer, performer persona. I can go berserk on stage as Ralph and the audience cheer for more."

But when Ralph's away, the song-writer in Clapton comes out to play.

"I'm a perennial songwriter. I got into all things literary at an early age - before I picked up a guitar, I was writing lyrics.

"Writing songs is what I do, I love it, but it's a lot deeper than just loving it. If you do something for this long, it's ingrained in your whole psyche. It's the reason I get up in the morning and it's the reason I keep living ... music and my girls [twin daughters Saskia and Montana, 22] of course.

"That's part of what makes songwriting the greatest job in the world. It's allowed me, for example, to really express how I feel about things I care about, like my girls.

"By doing that I took the road less travelled with my music, but that's why I've had such longevity ... my music is a singer-songwriter's music. It's the mid-tempo songs, ballads, and bit of real rock ... not these pop songs."

In an ironic twist, Clapton is most famous for his hit song Girls on the Avenue, but is quick to point out that the song was not his choice.

"Girls was a big exception to the rule. It's very unashamedly a pop song ... I only did it under pressure to save a record deal," he says.

"The record company wanted pop hits but I just wanted to write meaningful music. It really rubbed me up the wrong way."

Whether it be for Girls on the Avenue or an array of his other songs, Clapton has remained a distinctive voice in Australian music, and his sell-out concerts are testament to an appreciation that now reaches across generations.