Despite his own protests, Eric Clapton will return to the road, briefly

Eric Clapton, 71, has settled upon a slate of live shows for 2017.
Eric Clapton, 71, has settled upon a slate of live shows for 2017.PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Semi- retired guitarist Eric Clapton, 71, has settled upon a slate of live shows for 2017: two at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 19 and 20, and two at the Forum near Los Angeles on March 25 and 26.

And that is all, according to an announcement on Monday.

The news came with the acknowledgment that he had said last year that he would cease touring.

"I swear this is it, no more," the guitarist wrote in the programme for shows celebrating his 70th birthday in New York and London.

"I know I've been threatening retirement for the last 50 years, but I didn't think I'd ever really want to stop. I love what I do and always have done, but over the last few decades I've found what I was always really looking for, a loving family who love me just the way I am." (He had hinted at the same conclusion in 2014, telling an interviewer: "It takes so long to get anywhere.")

Critic Nate Chinen, writing in The New York Times, called a May 2015 show at Madison Square Garden "business as usual for Clapton, whose mature performance style has always suggested a master clinician more than a showman".

For next year's appearances, his usual band - Walt Richmond, Steve Gadd, Nathan East, Chris Stainton, Sharon White and Michelle John - will accompany Clapton, while the guitarists Gary Clark Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan will appear at the shows as special guests.

Tickets go on sale on Saturday at ticketmaster.com.

Clapton's most recent album, I Still Do, which combined cover songs and original compositions, was released in May, followed in September by a live album, recorded in San Diego in 2007.