Ben Palmer was delighted to read Chris Welch's short announcement in Melody Maker.
Palmer had played with Clapton in The Roosters, Eric's very first band. When he read that|
"Clappers" was getting up a new band he called and offered to drive the group around to their gigs. Clapton arranged for his old friend to meet with Robert Stigwood, Cream's
manager. Stigwood was hesitant, unsure as to whether Palmer was experienced enough to handle the job. Ben, thinking that being a "roadie" simply meant driving the band around,
told Stigwood that he could do whatever was necessary. Eric assured Stigwood that there was absolutely nothing to worry about, so Ben Palmer became the band's road manager.
Cream's official debut was to be at the National Jazz and Blues Festival July 31,1966, but they played a warm up show at the|
Twisted Wheel in Manchester, prior to their "debut". Ben Palmer drove the band to the club that night, and recalls it well:
'I parked the car at the back of the club and Eric, Jack and Ginger went in.
I went off to the nearest pub. I thought I'd give them an hour and pop back to see how they sounded. I went back an hour
later and all the amplifiers were still in the car.
Ginger said: "You've been gone a long time. Is it all ready? "
I asked him what he was on about. I said I'd not been long, just for a drink.
"But you're the bloody roadie" screamed Ginger, "you're supposed to set up our gear!".
I told him I hadn't a clue how to do it. I expected a fiver in my pocket for driving them, and "see you next week".
Ben was, by his own admission, totally out of his depth. But that would change.
Cream played at the Twisted Wheel that night, to a largely unappreciative audience.
That would change too!
Eric Clapton with The Roosters, 1963.
1) Ben Palmer isn't actually visable in the above photo. He is sitting at a piano a little off to the right, with nothing but the back of his head showing from behind the guitar's amp. Ben|
loved to play, he just didn't like being on stage.
2) 'The Roosters' were, Eric Clapton (guiter), Ben Palmer (piano), Terry Brennam (vocals) Robin Mason (drums) and Tom McGuinness (bass).
Photo Credits; Top right; The Roosters, from Tom McGuinness' private collection.
Bottom; Clapton is God (the dog appears unimpressed), Roger Perry.