In this week’s classic rock interview marking Cream’s Disraeli Gears 45th anniversary, plus “Sunshine of Your Love” hitting #1 in the US, Cream singer/songwriter/bassist Jack Bruce reminds us of the competitive cycling world’s long, dangerous history of doping decades before deposed American cycling champ Lance Armstrong appeared in the Oprah Winfrey tv confessional last week. In 1967 Bruce was discussing with guitar legend Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker the tragic sudden death of cycling champion Tommy Simpson as he attempted to defend his title ( a first for the UK) in the following year’s race. The cause of death would later be determined to be amphetamine overdose, but a Cream roadie’s malapropism after overhearing the band’s conversation ended up becoming Cream’s title for their breakthrough second album forty-five years ago.
The key numbers for Cream’s quicksilver career are startlingly single digits: years together- 3 ; albums released- 4; number of reunion albums/ tours in the forty-five years since- 1.
When I talk to Eddie Van Halen, Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, or Sammy Hagar and Joe Satriani of Chickenfoot, they and countless other musicians easily cite Cream as the gold standard which inspired them all to make the transition from rock music fan to rock musician. The degree to which Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker as Cream influenced multiple generations of bands is incalculable. – Redbeard