Though Rolling Stone magazine ranked Disraeli Gears at #114 album of all time, and the late Ginger Baker as one of rock’s three greatest drummers along with The Who’s Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, 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 fifty years since – 1. In this classic rock interview marking Cream’s Disraeli Gears 50th anniversary, Cream singer/songwriter/bassist the late Jack Bruce reminded 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. 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 in November 1967.At the time, nothing sounded quite like the songs on Disraeli Gears: “Strange Brew”,”Sunshine of Your Love” (rivaled only by “Purple Haze” that same year as the most subversive singles to ever penetrate Top 40 radio ), the elegant romantic falsetto of “Dance the Night Away“, and the psychedelic lyrics of “Tales of Brave Ulysses” absolutely mesmerized me with each repeated playing.
When I talk to Eddie Van Halen, Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, Sammy Hagar and Joe Satriani of Chickenfoot, or guitar phenom Eric Johnson, 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 Clapton, Bruce (who passed 2014), and the late Ginger Baker influenced multiple generations of bands as Cream is incalculable. – Redbeard