Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
British rock trio formed in 1966, encouraged by producer/manager Robert Stigwood: Eric Clapton, guitar; Jack Bruce, bass; Ginger Baker, drums. They played blues-based material, some traditional ('I'm So Glad', by Skip James) but much written by Bruce with lyrics by Pete Brown; they were loud and passionate, with extensive improvisation in concert, unusual at the time: the 'power trio' concept was later a big influence on the heavy metal genre. They took the USA by storm, selling 15m records in three years of Fresh Cream '66, Disraeli Gears '67, Wheels Of Fire '68. Seven top ten singles in the UK included 'I Feel Free'; three in USA included 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. The trio format was often augmented in the studio but was soon exhausted; they became restless and broke up '69. Clapton must have known that their self-indulgence was the antithesis of the blues, but we forget that Clapton was not the centre of the group: Baker formed it and Bruce was its voice; especially on the US tours they fought each other rather than backing Clapton. There was a farewell tour of the USA and two concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London, one filmed as Goodbye Cream. The last LP Goodbye '69 included 'Badge', co-written by Clapton and George Harrison. Bruce has made a dozen albums mostly on Polydor or Epic; Bruce Baker Moore early '94 was another attempt at Cream glory. They reunited for several sold-out concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in May 2005. See separate entries for Baker, Bruce, Clapton and Brown.