March 20, 1991
New York, New York
Conor Clapton (4) falls to his death

The apartment Conor and his mother Lory Del Santo shared featured cantilevered windows. On March 20, a janitor was cleaning the windows as Conor was playing hide-and-seek with his nanny. The janitor cautioned the nanny about the open window, but “before she could react,” biographer Philip Norman wrote, “Conor dashed past her, jumped on to the low window-ledge where he’d normally press his nose against the glass to gaze out – and disappeared.”

Eric Clapton, Conor Clapton, and Lory Del Santo
via Biography

Conor fell through the open 4-feet wide by 6-feet tall (1.2 by 1.8 meters) window and plunged 48 flights onto the roof of an adjacent building. Conor’s father Eric Clapton recalled later, “Whatever physical damage Conor suffered in that fall, by the time I saw him they had restored his body to some normality. I remember looking at his beautiful face in repose and thinking, ‘This isn’t my son. It looks a bit like him, but he’s gone.’”

The apartment building where the accident occurred
via Foursquare

Conor’s death was the inspiration of his father’s song Tears in Heaven, which went on to win three Grammy Awards and was ranked number 362 by Rolling Stone in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Eric also filmed a public service announcement for the New York State Health Department urging parents to add safety equipment around their homes. “Use guards on windows and safety-gates on stairs,” Eric concluded in his announcement. “It’s easy and it could prevent a terrible tragedy. Believe me, I know.”

Bertram, Colin. “Eric Clapton: The Unthinkable Tragedy That Inspired “Tears in Heaven”.” Biography. May 6, 2020. Accessed: March 20, 2021.
Norman, Philip. Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. Little, Brown and Company, 2018
“Eric Clapton on preventing tragedies like the one that killed his son.” Sentry Window Guards. January 13, 2014. Accessed: March 20, 2021.
“500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Rolling Stone. December 11, 2003. Accessed: March 20, 2021.
“Clapton son falls to death.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram. March 26, 1991
“Son’s death latest tragedy for Eric Clapton.” Blade-Citizen [Oceanside, California]. March 21, 1991
“Conor Clapton: The Tragic Story Behind “Tears in Heaven”.” Rocks Off. Accessed: March 20, 2021.

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