Melia McEnery: The Truth About Eric Clapton's Much Younger Wife

When you hear the name Eric Clapton, a few things probably come to mind. First of all, he's a well-known British rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. He's the only artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times in his career (twice for his work with bands and the third time for solo music). Clapton has also won a whopping 17 Grammy Awards and received 37 nominations.

In addition to his music, Clapton's love life has made headlines. As the New York Daily News once put it, "From models to actresses, Eric Clapton has dated them all." Ultimately, he settled down with now-wife Melia McEnery. But given the fact that he's 74 years old and she's 43, their 31-year age gap has garnered more than a little attention. They've been married for 18 years now, though, successfully shutting down any naysayers or skeptics. Here's the story of their long-standing relationship.

Eric Clapton met his now-wife at a party

The story of how Eric Clapton met Melia McEnery is actually pretty endearing. According to the Daily Mail, Ohio native McEnery used to be an Armani sales executive. The now-couple met in 1998 at a party she threw for the company, which Clapton attended since he's friends with Giorgio Armani, per The Telegraph. According to Clapton, McEnery approached him and said, "My uncle's a big fan of yours, can I get your autograph?" After that, the rest is history. "I started asking her out, and we became friends. And with her I found I was able to respond to something that was actually good for me," he told The Telegraph.

In 2002, Clapton and McEnery got married in a surprise ceremony on New Year's Day in the same English town where he grew up, according to E! News. Per Billboard, the wedding ceremony doubled as a baptism for the couple's then-six-month-old daughter, Julia Rose, and his older daughter, Ruth Patricia, from a previous relationship. At the time of their wedding, McEnery was 25 and Clapton was 56. In addition to Julia Rose, the couple went on to have two more daughters together: Ella May and Sophie Belle.

Melia McEnery helped change Eric Clapton's womanizing ways

According to a 2005 profile in The Telegraph, Eric Clapton categorized Melia McEnery as the only woman he's had a "genuinely equal relationship" with. He recalled their first meeting and said, "There was something about her... strength. She occupied her space with absolute authority. It was clear that even though she was half my age she was capable of being an adequate partner for anybody."

Before meeting McEnery, Clapton had a reputation as a womanizer — and it's something he's been open about as well. "I used to identify my self-esteem with sex. Girlfriends became a way of avoiding being with myself," he explained to The Telegraph. "I'd see a woman in a room and I'd be magnetized and usually that would be dangerous, because I don't think you can be any good to anybody unless you're OK on your own." 

From 1979 to 1988, Clapton was married to Pattie Boyd, with whom he fell in love while she was still married to his friend, the late Beatle George Harrison. Clapton has also been open about how poorly he treated Boyd during his days as a "full-blown, practicing alcoholic." Per the Associated Press, Clapton told The Sunday Times in 1999, "There were times when I just took sex with my wife by force and thought that was my entitlement. I had absolutely no concern for other people at all." That's a horrifying statement, to say the least.

Melia McEnery supports Eric Clapton's work in more ways than one

Following his own struggles with addiction, Eric Clapton went on to found Crossroads Centre Antigua in 1998. According to its website, the center "offers a therapeutic, supportive and safe environment, away from the confusion of life in addiction, on the beautiful island of Antigua." Per the Daily Mail, Clapton's wife Melia McEnery serves as the center's Senior Clinical Advisor.

McEnery is also supportive of her husband's music. In a 2005 Telegraph interview, Clapton shared that her favorite song from his album Back Home is "Run Home To Me." He explained, "She only has to hear the opening and she starts to cry, and me too, because that song is about us sitting on the stony beach in Bognor in winter. It was cold but beautiful and nobody was there and it was the most real picture I had of us becoming a family."

In addition to supporting his career, McEnery has supported her husband as he's struggled with some "health issues." In May 2015, Clapton told USA Today"My wife has been keen on juicing, with kale, hardcore stuff." Long story short, McEnery is there for Clapton through thick and thin — and helped change his life for the better along the way.