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North Korea invites Eric Clapton

February 26, 2008 6:02:06 PM PST
North Korean officials have invited rock guitarist Eric Clapton to play a concert in the communist state, a diplomat at the country's embassy in London said Tuesday.

The diplomat confirmed reports in the British media that Clapton had been officially invited to Pyongyang - the first such invitation to a Western rock star to the isolated nation.

"Eric Clapton is a well-known musician and guitarist, famous throughout the world," said the official, who declined to give his name. "It will be a good opportunity for Western music to be understood better by Koreans."

Clapton's North Korean debut may not be imminent, however.

Spokeswoman Kristen Foster said the 62-year-old musician had not agreed to play any dates in the country.

"Eric Clapton receives numerous offers to play in countries around the world," she said. "There is no agreement whatsoever for him to play in North Korea, nor any planned shows there."

North Korean authorities have long shunned rock and pop music, although Kim Jong Chol, the Swiss-educated son of national leader Kim Jong Il, is reportedly a Clapton fan.

Recently North Korea has begun to build tentative cultural ties with the West. The New York Philharmonic played in Pyongyang on Tuesday, and North Korean State Symphony Orchestra is due to perform in London and the English city of Middlesbrough in September.

The Financial Times reported the invitation to Clapton was in return for the Korean orchestra's British tour.

Clapton is regarded as one of rock's greatest guitarists, with a string of hits since the 1960s including include "Layla," "Cocaine" and "Tears in Heaven."


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