"Tears in Heaven" is a song by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, from the 1991 Rush film soundtrack. The song was written about the pain and loss Clapton felt following the death of his four-year-old son, Conor. Conor fell from a window of a 53rd-floor New York apartment building owned by his mother's friend on March 20, 1991. Clapton arrived at the apartment shortly after the accident.
The years following 1990 were extremely turbulent for Clapton. In August 1990, his manager and two of his roadies (along with fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan) were killed in a helicopter accident. Seven months later, on March 20, 1991, Clapton's four-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of his mother's friend's New York City apartment. He landed on the roof of an adjacent four-story building. After isolating himself for a period, Clapton began working again, writing music for a movie about drug addiction called Rush. Clapton dealt with the grief of his son's death by co-writing "Tears in Heaven" with Will Jennings. Shortly after his single was released, he went on to the MTV Unplugged series and recorded a new version of the song.Unplugged topped charts and was nominated for nine Grammy Awards the year it was released. Clapton made numerous public service announcements to raise awareness for childproofing windows and staircases.
In an interview with Daphne Barak, Clapton stated, "I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked... I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music".
In an interview, Will Jennings said:
"Eric and I were engaged to write a song for a movie called Rush. We wrote a song called 'Help Me Up' for the end of the movie... then Eric saw another place in the movie for a song and he said to me, 'I want to write a song about my boy.' Eric had the first verse of the song written, which, to me, is all the song, but he wanted me to write the rest of the verse lines and the release ('Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees...'), even though I told him that it was so personal he should write everything himself. He told me that he had admired the work I did with Steve Winwood and finally there was nothing else but to do as he requested, despite the sensitivity of the subject. This is a song so personal and so sad that it is unique in my experience of writing songs."
Clapton stopped playing it in 2004, as well as the song "My Father's Eyes", stating: "I didn't feel the loss anymore, which is so much a part of performing those songs. I really have to connect with the feelings that were there when I wrote them. They're kind of gone and I really don't want them to come back, particularly. My life is different now. They probably just need a rest and maybe I'll introduce them for a much more detached point of view." Clapton eventually resurrected both songs for his Old Sock tour in 2013.