We've Been Waiting So Long

Eric Clapton first albumAlmost from the moment Cream left the stage of the Royal Albert Hall in November of '68, rumours began to circulate that the band
would reunite.
So touched were they by the enthusiastic response of the crowd, the players themselves wondered if they had not made a mistake by
calling it quits.
But, one emotional night was not enough to change their decision and, at this point, it was a little too late to turn back the clock.

Eric and Ginger teamed up again in Blind Faith, and Jack began a successful solo career.

By the time Blind Faith disbanded, Eric was tired of being the "gunslinger" and retreated to the relative anonymity of Delaney and
Bonnie. In 1970 he released his first solo album, which proved to be a disappointment for most Cream fans. The album was devoid
of the long meandering guitar solos we had come to expect. At this point in time, even the most optimistic of fans had to believe a
Cream reunion was highly unlikely.

Derek and the Dominoes were to follow. They recorded only one studio album, but it is a classic! The Dominoes never really disbanded, they just sort of disintegrated. At this time
Eric was addicted to heroin and virtually disappeared for almost two years, briefly emerging to participate in George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.

Rainbow Concert He was lured back to the stage for a charity concert at the Rainbow Theatre, January 13,1973. The
concert proved to be a turning point in Clapton's career, and he acknowledges the debt he owes to his
friend, Pete Townshend, for organizing it.

"He really took a lot of time to help me out, because he thought I was worth it...and I didn't think I was
at that time. He gave me faith in myself".

Eric began a tentative comeback, though he was definitely not the Clapton of Cream.

In July of 1985 Clapton's career was invigorated by his appearance at the Live Aid Concert. He opened his set with White Room. In the weeks and months that followed Live Aid,
two of the most popular selling albums were, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and Cream's Wheels of Fire.
The reunion rumours were back too!

In an interview with Guitar Player in 1988, Dan Forte asked Eric about the possibility of a reunion.
"You know, that kind of thing has to be born from within the band, from within the people that were involved. If by some quirk of fate the three of us sat down and talked about it, or
were in the same place coincidentally and we got on well...it could happen. There's no reason why not. But it's not going to happen through outside influences, because of someone
else thinking it's a good idea.

Eric's unwillingness to take part in any reunion was always seen as the stumbling block, though his reluctance to state undeniably that it could never happen was enough to keep the
hope alive.
Shortly after Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the guitarist became emotional. "I was moved," Eric said. "I was in some other place. It's been so
long since I've been around something from somebody else that's inspired me. For the last 20 years, it's been up to me to inspire me."
"There isn't a drummer on this earth that has the dexterity that Ginger has," Clapton went on to say, "and Jack has this powerful thing that happens when he starts to sing and you're
off on the side."
Eric appeared to be a little more open to the idea of doing something with Cream, and not necessarily just for the money.
"Immediately I went off afterwards and started thinking, 'What could we do? What could we do without it getting into the wrong hands, without it getting out of control?' " Clapton
said at the time. "The first thing I thought was, 'Wouldn't it be nice to just go into the studio and play, and maybe do a bit of writing and see what happens then.'"

Jack with the All Stars Almost ten years after the Hall of Fame induction, author Jim Clash interviewed Jack and Ginger and questioned them about their feelings
towards a reunion.
"I'd like it to happen," said Jack."Apart from the money, I have to be honest, I think it would generate a lot of income, I think that band tends to
get overlooked these days. Led Zeppelin, for instance, has gotten a lot of recognition, and quite rightly so. But, it seems to be forgotten that
Cream and Hendrix really created that audience. A reunion would help clarify that".
"But I wouldn't be prepared to do it, really, unless it was a challenge," he continued. "And the challenge would be to come up with new material
somewhere close to as strong as the stuff from the old days."

Ginger at his ranch Ginger was not averse to the idea of a reunion. In fact, he had made an attempt to reform the band many years earlier.
"There was a point where I wanted to do it, when I totally went broke," Ginger said. "I went down to Eric and proposed it. He said he didn't
want to do it just because I was broke. This really hurt at the time, but it was also absolutely true. That is not a reason to do something, you
know."

"A lot of people think I'm dead," says Baker, laughing. "But that's nothing new. In 1968, I was driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a
Shelby Cobra with three gorgeous young birds. Suddenly, the radio program was interrupted to report that I'd just been found in my hotel room
dead from an overdose."

Early in November of 2004 rumours surfaced, once again, of an impending Cream reunion. As always, fans hoped they were true, but by now we had almost come to expect that
they weren't.
The reunion seemed to be all the more implausible in light of Jack's health. Jack almost died after having a liver
transplant in September of 2003. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer that summer. After surgery, his body rejected the new liver and he contracted an infection.
But in December, the rumours were confirmed! Clapton announced the news on the BBC's Johnnie Walker show. The group would begin rehearsals and play four nights in May at
the Royal Albert Hall!

More than thirty-six years after they had left the stage at Royal Albert Hall, they returned, on Monday, May 2, 2005.
The band was greeted with a thunderous ovation before they even played a single note. But, that should have been expected. After all, we had all waited a very long time for this
moment.
The first show began a little tentatively. The group had not played on stage for a great many years, and had rehearsed for a relatively short time. The audience was a little unsure as to
what to expect, and the three players seemed a bit unsure themselves.
It was, I imagine, much like the night of the Rainbow concert. Did they still "have it"? Although they seemed a bit nervous at the outset, by the time they got to Rollin' and Tumblin',
Cream was back!

Monday1Monday2
Cream return to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall more than thirty six years after their last appearance, in November of '68.

Ginger BakerJack BruceEric Clapton
Cream's first night, Monday, May 2, 2005.

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Photo Credits; Rainbow Concert; Barrie Wentzell or Robert Ellis, (I'm working on it!)
               Jack and Ginger; Michael Oakes
               Monday concert; Jill Furmanovsky
               Bottom row; BBC News photos/Associated Press

This page © Copyright 2005, Edward Uzenko.

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