Oct 26, 2014

Remembering Cream's Jack Bruce (1943-2014)

One of my favorite bands growing up was Cream, I am still amazed at how three guys could play such powerful music. Each one a master a their instrument, long live Cream & Jack Bruce............

John Symon 
Asher Bruce was born on May 14th, 1943 in Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire located in the central lowlands of Scotland. Bruce was born into a musical family that moved the family around quite often. He began playing the bass as a teenager & was awarded a scholarship to study cello. While being classically trained, he left college to play jazz music which at the time, was not accepted at his school. 

Jack Bruce 1960's
By the early sixties he was in London & playing in various bands, ,most notably a band called- the Graham Bond Organization, which featured drummer; Ginger Baker. He & Bruce started a musical rhythm unit as well as a hostile relationship that led to some legendary confrontations. The two would sabotage each other's equipment, shout & even have fist fights on stage. Bruce finally left the band after Baker once pulled a knife on him.

Over the next few years Jack Bruce played in various bands, most notably a short stint with John Mayall's Blues Breakers that featured one Mr. Eric Clapton. Bruce was also a one time member of Manfred Mann, who were commercially successful in the UK.

In 1966 Eric Clapton & Baker decided to form a band together. They were unhappy in the groups they were in & Calpton brought up the idea to Baker. 

Clapton requested they recruit Bruce to play bass. Baker almost crashed the car, upon Clapton's suggestion of Bruce. The two agreed to put their differences aside, and Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton & Ginger Baker formed the power trio, Cream. 

All of three of these Cream members were well known & respected musicians around swinging London at the time. The band was considered one of the first rock super groups to form. Cream played a mix of hard rock, blues & psychedelic rock becoming one of the most popular groups of all time. 

Bruce sang most of the lead vocals, since Clapton was still shy about his singing in those days. Bruce also wrote much of the groups most famous material. His bass playing became as legendary as Clapton was on guitar & Baker on drums. 

In less than three years time years Cream, would release four incredible albums; Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire & Goodbye Cream. Their sales total somewhere near 30 million albums sold. 

In late 1967, Cream released the classic album; Disraeli Gears which is usually defined as their best work. The album reached #5 on the US charts & brought them into superstar fame in America. The album featured classics like; Sunshine of Your Love, Strange Brew, Tales of Brave Ulysses & SWLABR. It's mix of heavy blues rock & psychedelic rock was signature best for the times. It holds up still as some of the greatest music to come out of the sixties. 

Trivia: The strange name of the album comes from a time when Clapton was talking to Ginger Baker about buying a racing bicycle. Mick Turner a roadie, commented, "it's got them Disraeli Gears". 

He meant to say derailleur gears but mistakenly mentioned a 19th-century British Prime Minister; Benjamin Disraeli. The band thought this was hilarious, and decided that it should be the title of the next album.

As the band began head lining, they quickly became popular in the US. They would stretch their less commercial songs into long musical jams on stage, mesmerizing the crowds. Some songs could go on for a half hour.  
Cream 1968
In 1968, their double album: Wheels of Fire became the first double album to go Platinum. This album featured long time classic rock hits; Crossroads, White Room as well as powerful blues songs like Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign & Pressed Rat & Warthog, which featured a hard rock musical backdrop with spoken vocals. By 1968 Clapton wanted to leave the band & explore a different career path. Cream had a farewell tour & Goodbye album & broke up while on top of the music world in 1969. 

Bruce would go to a solo career as well as play in various bands in the seventies, most notably; West Bruce & Laing featuring ex-Mountain members; Leslie West & Corky Laing. Unfortunately, Bruce developed a bad drug habit & lost most of his money by the end of the seventies. 

In the eighties he formed Jack Bruce & Friends which featured Asbury Park, New Jersey's own; David Sancious, an original Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street band member on keyboards. 

Bruce would also play in a couple of different bands with Robin Trower through the years.

In 1997 Bruce was a popular member of Ringo Starr's All Star Band, bringing the crowd to it's feet with his Cream songs. In 1993 he first rejoined Claton & Baker for the Cream induction into the R&R Hall of Fame. 

Cream Reunion Tour 2005
In 2005, Cream played a long 37 year anticipated reunion tour. The band played multiple dates, but only in two locationsl London' Royal Albert Hall & at New York's Madison Square Garden. 
(Centerfieldmaz attended an incredible New York show.
An album & DVD was released as well, bringing Cream back into the mainstream with rock fans. 

On October 25th, 2014 Jack Bruce passed away in Suffolk, England from liver disease, he was surrounded by his family. Bruce was married twice & is survived by four children & a grand daughter. His daughter Aruba Red is a popular trip hop artist based in London.

A statement from his family said: "It is with great sadness that we, Jack's family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father and granddad and all-round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts."

Ginger Baker expressed condolences on his Facebook page for "the loss of a fine man." Eric Clapton, on his Facebook page, said Bruce "He was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me." 

Many now legendary rock bass players have considered Bruce one of the greatest bassists, as well as a huge influence. Pink Floyd's Roger Waters called Bruce "probably the most musically gifted bass player who's ever been".

Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler commented "So sad to hear of Jack Bruce passing. My biggest influence and favorite bass player. Thank you, Jack. RIP,".

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Flea added "Oh man. Jack Bruce. Too much. Wow. Holy holy. I love that guy. One of a kind greatness. End of an era."

Ringo Starr tweeted: "We lost Jack Bruce today an incredible musician writer and a good friend peace and love to all his family,"

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