JACK BRUCE (1943-2014)

Posted: May 6, 2020 in MUSIC

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Indisputably one of the greatest bassists of the Rock era, Jack Bruce, a multi-instrumentalist, is known primarily as part of the original power trio Cream. However, the fiery Scot had a musical life before the supergroup – originally in the Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated in 1962, where he played upright bass. The band also featured another volatile performer, drummer Ginger Baker who would later join Bruce in Cream. the two developed a pronounced aversion toward each other which helped to turn Cream rancid after just three years. Bruce also formed the Graham Bond Quartet in 1963 (later becoming the Graham Bond Organization) which featured future Mahavishnu Orchestra guitarist John McLaughlin, and, of course, Ginger Baker on the skins. There was a short stint with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he crossed paths with Eric Clapton, and the stage was set for the formation of Cream in mid-1966 when Clapton upped and left Mayall high and dry. But first Bruce had joined Manfred Mann and tasted success in the form of a No1 hit “Pretty Flamingo.” While a member of Cream from 1966-1969, Bruce was elevated to rock superstardom with his EB-3 electric bass runs on many of Cream’s classic recordings. After Cream disbanded, Bruce issued his first solo album “Songs for a Tailor,” featuring the sublime “Theme for an Imaginary Western.” (1969). In 1972 he formed a Blues Rock trio, West, Bruce and Laing, issuing two studio albums and one live disc. He joined Mick Taylor and Carla Bley in a short-lived ensemble in 1975, and later rejoined John McLaughlin in 1979 touring with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Drugs bedeviled Bruce at decades’ end and he was nearly destitute. His fortunes improved in 1981 when Bruce hooked up with guitarist Robin Trower and drummer Bill Lordan in two successful power trio recordings, B.L.T,” (1981) and “Truce,” (1982). Bruce continued to collaborate and record solo albums – 14 in all, plus seven live albums – before his death in 2014 at age 71. Bay Area fans will remember Bruce with Cream at Winterland in 1967 and the Fillmore Auditorium for record two of the live double album “Wheels of Fire,” in 1968 in which Bruce traded licks with Clapton in a fierce interplay of improvisational prowess.

Those were the days..“Those were the days, yes they were, those were the days/Those were the days, miracles everywhere are they now?/They’re gone/Those were the days, yes they were, those were their ways/Those were the days, yes they were, those were the days”

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