Saturday, October 25, 2014

Obituary: Jack Bruce

Rock musician Jack Bruce, 71, one of the best bass guitarists in the business and best known for playing bass in the 1960s rock band Cream, has unfortunately passed away. He reportedly died of liver problems.

He wrote an autobiography a few years ago, and I will have to buy it.

That group was something else, not least the fact that Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker did NOT get along. Hell, I am sugarcoating it--they HATED each other with a passion. The feud allegedly went on for decades, across continents. They even hated each other despite the fact Baker was living in South Africa (tax reasons) and Bruce was in Britain. Poor old Eric Clapton had to run interference and try to be a peacemaker during the Cream days.

It wasn't surprising the group last only a few years. I should revise that to say it is a miracle the group lasted as long as it did.

Bruce had battled ill health and drug addiction over the years.


Born to musical parents in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1943, Bruce played in various dance bands and jazz groups before joining the Graham Bond Organization in 1962, where he met drummer Ginger Baker. He later joined John Mayall's Blues Breakers and met guitarist Eric Clapton, leading to the formation of Cream.

Bruce went on to record solo albums and front bands, releasing more than a dozen solo LPs over the next four decades, including his latest, "Silver Rails," in March. Cream reunited briefly in 1993 for the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

However, Baker's official fan page did note Bruce's passing and made some nice remarks, so perhaps the feud might have been exaggerated a bit.

A more recent appearance, from 2005:

A great obituary of Jack Bruce is here.

I'd argue it was he, more than Clapton or Baker, who really made Cream the legendary band it was. His bass work was and is awesome. It was he who wrote or co-wrote the songs and sang the vocals.

From the above link:

By the time he was sixteen, he was making so much money he dropped out of school. He was a consummate musician. He could play any style, classical, jazz, latin, blues, but what he became famous for was playing the fluid, expressive, wildly melodic and highly charged basslines in rock’s first supergroup, Cream.

A power trio formed in 1966 by Eric Clapton, Cream was a showcase for three of the hottest virtuoso musicians on the London rock scene, Clapton, Bruce and wild drummer Ginger Baker. They were an immediate multi-million selling sensation, a gladiatorial outfit who seemed to be doing musical battle on stage, producing a heavy form of psychedelic blues that heralded the birth of hard rock.

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