Bad Love (Eric Clapton song)

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"Bad Love"
Bad Love 1990 Cover.png
Single by Eric Clapton
from the album Journeyman
B-side Before You Accuse Me
Released 10 March 1990 (1990-03-10)
Format 7" vinyl · 12" CD Maxi
Genre Rock
Length 5:08
Label Warner · Reprise
Writer(s) Eric Clapton · Mick Jones
Producer(s) Russ Titelman
Eric Clapton singles chronology
"Running on Faith"
"Bad Love"
"No Alibis"

"Bad Love" is a rock song written and recorded by the British rock musician Eric Clapton, who co-wrote the title with Foreigner's lead guitarist Mick Jones. The track was released as the third single from Eric Clapton's 1989 studio album Journeyman on March 10, 1990 for Reprise Records a sublabel of the Warner Music Group company.

The rock composition also features rock music singer Phil Collins, who plays drums and sings harmony background vocals on the recording, which was produced by, then, Clapton's long-time partner Russ Titelman. At the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards, Clapton won an award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male. The single release reached various international single music charts and sold a total of 250,000 copies worldwide. A music video was released in 1989 to accompany the single release.


"Bad Love" was released as the third single from Eric Clapton's 1989 studio album Journeyman on March 10, 1990. However, a promotional single release, exclusively released in the United Kingdom only, was released in 1989 under license of Warner Bros. Records on a 12-inch CD Maxi single. For whole of Europe and the United States, the single was released via 7 inch vinyl grammophone record on March 10 one year later. The recording was produced by Russ Titelman, who later also produced several albums for Eric Clapton under Reprise and Warner Bros. Records.[1] Other territories, in which the single has been released include Australia, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, where it also was released as a B-side to a later single or limited edition track of a compilation album.[2]


The original recording features Eric Clapton playing electric guitar and singing lead vocals alongside Phil Collins' drumming and harmony background singing. Alan Clark acts as the keyboardist on the release, which includes Pino Palladino on bass guitar.[3] The publishing rights to both the song and release belong to Unichappell Music, Incorporated.[4] While promoting his new studio album during his two-year "Journeyman World Tour" in 1990 and 1991, Eric Clapton performed the song with a different band line-up including Nathan East on bass guitar, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, Chuck Leavell on the Hammond organ, Steve Ferrone on drums, Ray Cooper on percussion, Phil Palmer on rhythm guitar as well as Tessa Niles and Katie Kissoon on backing vocals.[5] Eric Clapton released a live interpretation of "Bad Love" on his album 24 Nights with the band line-up mentioned above, released on October 8, 1991.[6] The British rock musician also released the track on various compilation albums including Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton (1999), Complete Clapton (2007) and Forever Man (2015). In total, the rock tune as been released on over 15 albums worldwide.[7]

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl release[8]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bad Love" Eric Clapton · Mick Jones 5:08
2. "Before You Accuse Me" Bo Diddley 3:57
Total length: 9:15


In an interview with his official fan club "Where's Eric!", Eric Clapton remembered how the song came about: "Warner Bros. wanted another 'Layla'. I thought, well, if you sit down and write a song in a formatted way, it's not so hard. You think, 'What was 'Layla' comprised of? A fiery intro modulated into the first verse and chorus with a riff around it. I had this stuff in my head, so I just juggled it around, and Mick Jones (of the group Foreigner) came in to help tidy up. He was the one who said 'You should put a 'Badge' middle in there'. So, we did that. Although it sounds like a cold way of doing it, it actually took on its own life".[9] The song is about a man, who broke up several relationships and is now with the woman of his dreams. Although he is very happy and in love, the protagonist feels sad for all the people, who are not as happy as him, because he understands how it feels to be without happiness and love. The second verse explains, that the person felt unhappy with his life for a long amount of time and recalls many "heartaches". Finally, though, he is happy with his life and wants to be with the person he now met. The chorus expresses the person's need to forget about his old affaires, which have felt to him like "Bad Love". The song consists of two verses and one chorus which is sung between the two verses and three times after the second verse ended.[10] The chorus and instrumental solo sections are written in a key of D minor. The verses are played and sung in the key of B minor.[11] Because of the song's lyrics and powerful chord progression, it is widely recognised as "the perfect break-up song".[12]

Music video[edit]

A self-titled music video to accompany the "Bad Love" single release was filmed and released in 1989.[13] The music video, which was shot in a 4:3 format, was later resized to a wider format to get a more high-definition picture for its re-release on DVD format. The music video was shot in a black and white picture and features Eric Clapton playing and singing the song alongside Nathan East on bass guitar and vocals, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards and vocals as well as Phil Collins, who is on drums and also sings backing vocals. The quartett is shown performing the title on stage while Eric Clapton rehearsed for his, then, upcoming "Journeyman World Tour". The main video action is interrupted with film sequences that show off-stage actions like camera and lightning arrangements and Eric Clapton chatting to his fellow band members.[14] The "Bad Love" video was constantly to be seen on the music channels MTV, VH1, MuchMusic, Fuse TV and is still shown on their programme.[15] The music video was re-released on October 12, 1999 on the Clapton Chronicles: The Best of Eric Clapton DVD.[16] The live video version from 24 Nights is not considered as the official music video.[17]


Year Ceremony Award Result Ref.
1991 Grammy Award Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male Won [18]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, the rock song reached number 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, where it stayed a total of five weeks on the official national singles chart.[19] "Bad Love" was more successful on the Mainstream Rock songs chart, also compiled by the Billboard magazine, where it peaked at number one and stayed a total 21 weeks on the chart. The song was Clapton's last number-one hit, to reach the Billboard Mainstream Rock songs chart. It stayed on top of the chart for three weeks.[20] The single sold a total of 129,482 in the five weeks on the Hot 100 singles chart.[21] In the United Kingdom, the release peaked at number 25 on the Official Charts Company's compilation, where it stayed seven weeks[22] and sold 48,272 copies in the country.[21] In Canada, "Bad Love" peaked at number 56 on the singles charts[23] compiled by the RPM magazine, selling 2,001 copies, while on the chart.[21] In Italy and Poland, the single release peaked at position 39 and number 14. In Japan, the album ranked on number ten on the Oricon international singles chart, selling more than 50,000 copies in total and becoming a gold record within a month.[24] It was awarded with a Gold disc in Portugal and South Africa, too.[25] In the Netherlands, the single positioned itself at place 83 on the MegaCharts singles chart. According to Clapton himself, the release reached the Top 10 in five countries.[25] In total, the single release sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Music critic Scott Floman notes, that the title "rocked just hard enough while containing catchy choruses" and that "Bad Love" is a "catchy faster paced number which saw Clapton really letting loose on guitar", which the critic is not a surprise, because "the song was co-written with Foreigner’s Mick Jones".[26]

Chart positions[edit]


Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart
Billboard Mainstream Rock number-one single
January 27 – February 16, 1990
Succeeded by
"Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Japan (RIAJ)[24] Gold 50,000^
Portugal (AFP)[25] Gold 20,000^
South Africa (RiSA)[25] Gold 20,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Year Formats Label Ref.
United Kingdom United Kingdom 1989 12" CD Maxi single Warner [33]
Brazil Brazil 1990 12" CD Maxi single [34]
Germany Germany 7" vinyl single [35]
Japan Japan 12" CD Maxi single [36]
Spain Spain 7" vinyl single [37]
Taiwan Taiwan Limited Edition track [38]
United States United States 12" CD Maxi single [39]
Thailand Thailand 1999 Limited Edition track [40]
Australia Australia 2005 Limited Edition track [41]

Media appearance[edit]

In 1990, Eric Clapton filmed a television advertisement for the Japanese car company Honda Cars.[42] The filming took place in a New York City recording studio. In the commercial, which was shown frequently on worldwide television, the British rock musician is seen and heard overdubbing an extra guitar line, that Eric Clapton improvised, onto the song "Bad Love". For the commercial Eric Clapton brought his famous black Fender Stratocaster, "Blackie", out of retirement at the request of Honda Cars in Japan.[43]

Cover versions[edit]

"Bad Love" has not been officially re-released on any studio or live album by another registered artist. However, the rock song became a favourite for covers on the Internet video platform YouTube. More than one hundred cover versions by both amateur and professional musicians have been uploaded, in which people cover the keyboard, bass and guitar playing of either the studio or the live release.[44]


  1. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love –". Ö3 Austria Top 40 (in German). Steffen Hung (Hung Medien). Archived from the original on August 16, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Latest "Bad Love" by "Eric Clapton" – 36 'Rare 7", 12", LP, album vinyl records, CDs, CD singles, memorabilia, imports' – Page 1". Your Personal Eil. Retrieved August 22, 2015. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Clapton, Eric (1989). Journeyman Liner Notes (Grammophone Record). United States: Warner Music Group. p. 2. 
  4. ^ "Songwriters Hall of Fame – Eric Clapton Detailed Song List". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Eric Clapton Tour Archive". Where's Eric!. Retrieved August 22, 2015.  Note: Select and search various tour archive from 1990 to 1991 and 1992.
  6. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "24 Nights – Eric Clapton | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Bad Love – Eric Clapton | Listen, Appearances, Song Review | AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ " – Eric Clapton – Bad Love". (in French). Steffen Hung (Hung Medien). Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Eric Clapton's Songs: The Backstories". Where's Eric!. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Bad Love – Eric Clapton | Song Lyrics | AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Bad Love Chords by Eric Clapton @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com". Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ "10 Great Love Songs to Break Up on Valentine's Day". Altralto. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Music Videos". Where's Eric!. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Eric Clapton Bad Love". Warner Music Group. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Eric Clapton". Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Clapton Chronicles (DVD Back Cover)". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Live 1990". Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Past Winners Search |". Grammy Awards. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Eric Clapton – Chart history | Billboard (Billboard Hot 100)". Billboard Magazine. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Eric Clapton – Chart history | Billboard (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard Magazine. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c d "Dossier – The Music of Eric Clapton". Astrid Keil (in German). Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  22. ^ "ERIC CLAPTON | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 51, No. 11". RPM Magazine. Library and Archives Canada. January 27, 1990. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  24. ^ a b c d Tatsaku, Ren (2011). Oricon Sales Report (in Japanese). Tokyo: Oricon Style. 
  25. ^ a b c d Keil, Marcus (February 23, 1990). Journeyman – An Interview with Eric Clapton. Radio NRW. Essen: MK: Could it become one of your most successful albums? EC: I don't really care about that kind of thing, you know? But you are right, it is topping the sales charts everywhere as it seems. I'm really amazed that people all around the world now are listening to my music. And that's true for the singles that came out too. MKR: What single are you most proud of, and what single is commercially the most successful? EC: Mmmh, that's pretty hard. I think "Pretending" is a good song, and I like my version very much. Everybody on there did a great job. Of course, "Running On Faith" means very much to me. So I think these two are my favourites so far. I might change my mind soon, you know. The commercially most successful release so far is "Bad Love". Warner came to me and wanted a new "Layla", that is what I send out, I wrote it with Mick Jones from Foreigner. So far, the single reached the Top 10 in five countries, and gone Gold in Japan, Portugal and South Africa. It's crazy..
  26. ^ "Eric Clapton Album Reviews". Scott Floman. Retrieved August 22, 2015.  Note: Look for "Journeyman (Reprise ‘89) Rating: B+".
  27. ^ "M&D: Classifiche" (in Italian). Musica e dischi. Retrieved August 22, 2015.  (Subsription required) Note: Search for Eric Clapton, then select Bad Love to see the chart positions.
  28. ^ " – Eric Clapton – Bad Love" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  29. ^ "Lista Przebojów Trójki – Polskie Radio Online". LP3 (in Polish). Lista Przebojów Programu Trzeciego. Retrieved August 22, 2015.  Note: Number 429 marks the highest charting position.
  30. ^ "Archive Chart: 1990-02-11" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  31. ^ "Eric Clapton – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Eric Clapton. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  32. ^ "Eric Clapton – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Eric Clapton. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  33. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – United Kingdom Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Brazil Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Germany Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Japan Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on January 20, 2005. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  37. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Spain Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on June 28, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Taiwan Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on June 16, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – United States Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  40. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Thailand Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  41. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love – Australia Release". Your Personal Eil. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  42. ^ "Eric Clapton – Bad Love". Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  43. ^ "Television Commercials". Where's Eric!. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  44. ^ Search for "Bad Love" on YouTube and count the number of different, serious cover versions.

Further reading[edit]

  • Shapiro, Harvey (1992). Eric Clapton: Lost in the Blues. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80480-9. 
  • Roberty, Mark (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Eric Clapton. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0711943052.