Guitarist Clapton weds in private
LONDON, England -- Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton married his 25-year-old American girlfriend in a private ceremony on New Year's Day, the presiding priest has said.
Relatives and friends had been invited to St Mary Magdelen Church in Ripley, southwest of London, for the christening of the couple's six-month-old daughter Julie Rose and Clapton's older daughter Ruth Patricia.
But after the baptisms, it was announced that the 56-year-old bluesman and American Melia McEnery would marry during the same service -- to the surprise of many of the guests.
In a statement, the Rev Christopher Elson said he was delighted the couple had chosen Clapton's childhood home for the wedding.
The guitarist was born in Ripley and brought up by his grandparents, who lived in the village.
Elson said: "It was a very happy occasion and I pray God's blessing upon Eric and Melia in their married life as well as for Julie and Ruth at the beginning of their Christian lives."
He added that he had known about the wedding for some time and helped the couple plan the ceremony.
The wife of rock star Andy Fairweather-Low, who was a godfather to Julie Rose, told The Sun newspaper: "We went there thinking it was just a christening for the girls. But at the end of the ceremony the vicar said, 'We have two people here who want to get married as well.'
"Then Eric stepped forward and everyone cheered. Everyone was very happy for them.
"It was a lovely day -- only close friends and family were invited as Eric wanted to keep it private. It was a fabulous occasion for everyone there.
"Eric was wearing a dark suit and looked very smart. His bride was wearing pale grey -- I think it was Armani."
Ruth, 16, was born after Clapton had an affair with her mother, Yvonne Kelly, in 1983, but the rock star did not meet her until 1991.
Clapton met graphic artist Melia in Los Angeles in 1999 while working on an album with BB King. Their daughter Julie was born last June in Melia's home town of Columbus, Ohio.
Her parents attended the service with some of the couple's closest family and friends.
Clapton buried his four-year-old son, Conor, at the same church in Ripley 11 years ago after the child fell from the 53rd floor of a Manhattan apartment. The death inspired Clapton's hit single "Tears in Heaven."
This is Clapton's second marriage. He was married for nine years to Patti Boyd, former wife of the late Beatle George Harrison. They divorced in 1988.
Ginny Luckhurst, a London spokeswoman for Clapton's record label, WEA, said the guitar legend was not expected to issue a statement.
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