In the archives of...
Life, John Olson
The Parrot of Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton and his grandmother, Photograph by John Olson © 1971 Time Inc
The story on rock stars with their parents was a natural. A number of the same stars I'd found very distasteful and uncooperative were very cooperative around their parents. They were all scared of them—or at least wanted to act like human beings—in front of their parents.
I shot Eric Clapton at his grandmother's house. I got there before Eric arrived. His grandmother had a parrot. I looked in the cage, and the parrot looked at me and said, “Fuck you.”
I brought my assistant over, and I said, “Listen to this.”
The parrot said, “Fuck you.”
A few minutes later, Clapton’s grandmother came back into the room, and I said, “What's the parrot saying?”
“He's saying, ‘Gobble-gobble,’ ” she said.
She left, and the parrot said, “Fuck you,” again.
An hour later, Eric came. I walked him over to the parrot and said, “What's that parrot saying?”
“I know, I know,” he said. “Bonnie and Delaney stayed here for a month, and they taught him that, but my grandmother won't admit it.”
(Interview on October 19, 1993. Excerpted from: John Loengard, LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, Boston, A Bullfinch Press Book, 1998)