Eric Clapton has revealed he is suffering incurable damage to his nervous system which has left him struggling to play his guitar.
"I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year. It started with lower back pain, and turned into what they call peripheral neuropathy - which is where you feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg. 'And I’ve had to figure out how to deal with some other things from getting old."
Clapton, 71, said that it is now ‘hard work’ to play the guitar and he has had to ‘come to terms’ with the fact that his condition will not improve.
"Because I’m in recovery from alcoholism and addiction to substances, I consider it a great thing to be alive at all. By rights I should have kicked the bucket a long time ago, " he said. "'For some reason I was plucked from the jaws of hell and given another chance,"
He added that he can still play, but said, "it’s hard work sometimes, the physical side of it - just getting old, man, is hard."
The veteran rock guitarist first rose to fame in the 1960s with the bands John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith before launching a successful solo career in the 1970s.
While his career boomed in the Seventies, Mr Clapton’s personal life descended into addiction and a string of doomed affairs, including with model Pattie Boyd, who was married to Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
He converted to Christianity but his heroin addiction became so severe that he was forced to temporarily give up performing, famously passing out while performing at a charity concert in Madison Square Garden in 1971.
He told one reporter: "I don’t know how I survived - the 70s especially. 'There was one point there where they were flying me to hospital in St Paul [Minnesota] and I was dying, apparently - I had three ulcers and one of them was bleeding. I was drinking three bottles of brandy and taking handfuls of codeine, and I was close to checking out. It’s amazing that I’m still here, really."
Clapton married Boyd in 1979, giving up heroin but beginning his battle with alcoholism.
He described Boyd in his 2007 autobiography as a ‘salve-cum-partner’ and frequently beat her and forced her to have sex with him.
"I kind of regret losing an awful lot of time to just being a vegetable - pickled," he said.
In 1985 he had a love child with Yvonne Kelly, a manager at Associated Independent Recording, but it was not until his affair with Italian model Lory Del Santo was revealed that he divorced Pattie Boyd.
He married Melia McEnery in 2002, 31 years his junior, a former fashion sales executive. The couple have three daughters and a grandson together.
"My life is really blessed. I’ve got a wonderful family, a fantastically beautiful wife, in every way, great kids, and I can still play," he explained. "I love to play, still. I sit in the corner of our front room with a guitar, and I play in the morning and I rest in the afternoon... Life is good."
The guitarist, who has just released his 23rd album, I Still Do, said the record is far from a farewell to his career but the title is a tribute to friends, family and other musicians who have passed away in recent years.