Tears in Heaven

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"Tears in Heaven"
Single by Eric Clapton
from the album Rush
B-side "Tracks and Lines"
Released January 7, 1992
Format Cassette, CD, 7", 12"
Recorded Late 1991
Genre Soft rock
Length 4:30
Label Warner Bros. Records
Writer(s) Eric Clapton and Will Jennings
Producer(s) Russ Titelman
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
Eric Clapton singles chronology
"Wonderful Tonight (live)"
"Tears in Heaven"
"Layla (Acoustic)"

"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.[1] 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.[2]

Writing and inspiration[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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".[5]

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."[2]

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."[6] Clapton eventually resurrected both songs for his Old Sock tour in 2013.


In 2004, "Tears in Heaven" was ranked number 362 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[7]

Commercial success[edit]

"Tears in Heaven" is one of Clapton's most successful songs, as it reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the U.S. The song also stayed three weeks as No. 1 on the American adult contemporary chart in 1992. Jennings, who worked with Clapton on the song, was reluctant at first to help him write a personal song.[3] The song was initially featured on the soundtrack to the film Rush, followed by the album Unplugged, and it won three Grammy AwardsSong of the Year, Record of the Year and Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 1993 Grammy Awards.[8] It also won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video in 1992.[9]

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[30] Gold 35,000^
Belgium (BEA)[31] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[32] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[33] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Macao (IFPI Macao)[34] Gold 15,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[35] Gold 7,500*
United States (RIAA)[36] Platinum (physical)
Gold (digital download)

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

Other performances[edit]

In 2005, Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne assembled an all-star cast to collaborate on "Tears in Heaven". Sales from the recording benefited the Disasters Emergency Committee's Tsunami Earthquake appeal and the tsunami victims in Southeast Asia. The line up included Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige, Pink, Slash, Duff "Rose" McKagan, Steven Tyler, Elton John, Ringo Starr, Andrea Bocelli, Katie Melua, Josh Groban, Scott Weiland, Robbie Williams, and Rod Stewart. Ozzy Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne also sang on the song.[37][38]


  1. ^ "Tears in heaven". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  2. ^ "Interview with Lory del Santo". Eric-clapton.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (1992-08-18). "MTV Unplugged - Eric Clapton | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  5. ^ "Exclusive: Mother of 'Tears in Heaven' Inspiration Shares Story - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  6. ^ "2. Tears In Heaven - Eric Clapton - Everybody hurts: songs that make men cry". Music.uk.msn.com. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  7. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Eric Clapton, 'Tears in Heaven'". Rolling Stone. 1991-03-20. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  8. ^ Billboard. 1993-03-06. 
  9. ^ MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS – 1992 – Winners
  10. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  11. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  12. ^ "Ultratop.be – Eric Clapton – TEARS IN HEAVEN" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  13. ^ "Adult Contemporary Tracks" (PHP). RPM 55 (19). 9 May 1992. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  14. ^ "100 Hot Tracks" (PHP). RPM 55 (16). 18 April 1992. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  15. ^ "Lescharts.com – Clapton, Eric – Tears In Heaven" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  16. ^ "Musicline.de – Clapton, Eric Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  17. ^ "Search the Charts". Irish Charts. Fireball Media. Retrieved 2015-07-30.  Type "Eric Clapton" under Search by Artist to see search results.
  18. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  19. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  20. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven". Singles Top 60. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  21. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  22. ^ "Archive Chart: 1992-03-21" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  23. ^ "Eric Clapton Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Eric Clapton. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  24. ^ "Eric Clapton Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Eric Clapton. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  25. ^ "Eric Clapton – Chart history (Mainstream Rock Songs)". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  26. ^ "Eric Clapton – Chart history (Radio Songs)". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  27. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1992". Recorded Music NZ. The Official New Zealand Music Chart. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  28. ^ "Billboard Top 100 Hits for 1992". Billboard Magazine. Longbored Surfer. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  29. ^ "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Top 50 Singles 1993". Australian Single Charts. aria.com.au. 
  30. ^ "Accreditation Awards". Australian Fun Countdowns. 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2015-07-07. 
  31. ^ K., Wout: Singles Vlaanderen 1997 – Phenomenal Club, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker. 1997. Ultratop – Rare, Printed And Full!. 1997.
  32. ^ Schmidt, Alan. The sales book of singles. Montreal. 1993. p. 96–98.
  33. ^ Oricon Sales Report. 2011. 200.000 sold copies (Double Platinum status). (This information / report can also be found archived at ukmix > Japanese Charts-The Archives).
  34. ^ Macao Music Sales (2001-2009). Record Sales. 2015-02-08 (Former link: http://recordsales.2xik.com/The-first-blog-b1/Macao-Music-Sales-2001-2009-b1-p1.htm).
  35. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart – 27/09/1992". Recorded Music NZ. 1992-06-07. Retrieved 2015-07-07. 
  36. ^ "Tears+in+Heaven" "American single certifications – Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. Retrieved 2015-07-07. 
  37. ^ "Entertainment | Music stars record tsunami single". BBC News. 2005-01-20. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  38. ^ : (2005-10-18). "Tears In Heaven (2005) | Save the Children | MP3 Downloads 7digital United Kingdom". 7digital.com. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 

External links[edit]