The PlayersEric, Jack and Ginger were never close personal friends. It was music that had brought them together, and when the music was over the three went their separate ways. Yet, like old
soldiers who have survived battles waged long ago, the three men enjoy a special sort of camaraderie. The experience with Cream was something uniquely theirs, something no one
else could ever completely understand or "get in on".
They will forever be bound to their past.
Individually, they are Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, but put the three of them together and they are still, Cream.
"We all loved one another in a way. That's the heavy thing! If you put the three of us together now, the same things would happen. That's why we live so far away from one another,
probably. I remember having a reunion with Jack and Ginger in the mid-seventies at my home. The three of us met in London, in the office, by accident and came back to my house
flying, really flying, on cloud nine. It was a summer's day, people were arriving, like they sometimes do in a country house, and we were out there sitting on the terrace, in chairs,
facing the same way, the three of us, almost as if we were expecting people to come. People were arriving and sort of walking round the corner, down round the side of the house,
walking round there and stopping, as if they were approaching a court. And this buzz was coming off of us. Ginger would get up and address whoever it was. It was amazing, just
bizarre, and the three of us were like a unit like that. One of us would take care of one angle, one would take care of another angle, one would address the remainder.
It could happen again. If you put the three of us in a room, we would immediately find our level and function on it perfectly. Very strange! We haven't changed that much. Jack's still
basically the same, Ginger's still basically the same, and I'm still basically the same. Those two fought like dogs, but the triangle made it work."
Another Cream reunion took place on the occasion of Eric's wedding celebration. Eric had married Pattie Boyd Harrison on March 27, 1979, in Tucson, Arizona. The next night he
began a forty concert American tour. Back in England after a triumphant tour, Eric and Pattie threw a huge wedding party for relatives and friends. As might be expected, a number
of musicians were in attendance. Jack and Ginger were both there, as were members of the Rolling Stones, and Jeff Beck. Three of the Beatles, George, Paul and Ringo were there
as well. John Lennon was in New York, but said later that he would gladly have attended, had he only known about it!
A marquee had been set up and the musicians jammed throughout the night.
Ginger recalls "I played drums along with Ringo at one remarkable point, when three of The Beatles took the|
stage together, it was me backing them. The music was really happening".
Ginger's daughter, Nettie was a little less impressed by the nights music.
"They were playing the hits and then Mick Jagger sang Miss You, sounding absolutely diabolical. All these
aspiring musicians who think these superstars sound so great when they get together to jam.... well, they don't!"
The evening ended on a sadder note for Jack.
Alone among the players, Jack Bruce approached the music with his usual intensity. Playing bass, he
improvised with tremendous imagination on old rock'n'roll songs like Johnny B. Goode and Blue Suede Shoes.
But the rest of the band didn't want to take the session so seriously. They ostracized Jack. In the early hours of
the morning in the chilly tent, Jack was the lone musician playing. Jack was devastated by the callous treatment
at the hands of his fellow musicians.
"The others couldn't take it" recalls Ben Palmer. "They treated him so badly. He was really playing an
advanced form of rock'n'roll, probably the sort of music Cream would have played if they'd lasted. But they all
moved farther and farther away from him leaving him in the marquee. And Jack came off the stage broken. He
had nothing to say and nowhere to go".
The MusicWhile Cream officially disbanded following their Royal Albert Hall shows, the three players would cross paths on many occasions in the years to come. In December of 1968 the
Rolling Stones filmed Rock'n'Roll Circus. It was meant for television, but Mick Jagger wasn't happy with the Stones' performance, so it was never shown. (Both the soundtrack and
video were finally released a few years ago).
According to Harry Shapiro ( Eric Clapton: Lost in the Blues ) Cream performed two songs for this show, an instrumental plus a song called Everybody. Apparently, these have
surfaced as bootlegs.
I certainly am not in a position to disagree with Mr.Shapiro but, I have never heard of the numbers he mentions on any bootleg list, and I would have to wonder why Cream would
get together to record anything three weeks after their final concert.
In March of 1969, Eric and Jack found themselves on stage again, this time for a performance in the filming of "Supershow". The show was filmed over two days at an unused|
factory in Staines, west of London. Jack and Eric took to the stage with Roland Kirk, Jon Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Vernon Martin and Ron Burton. They played an
instrumental called Slate 27. Later on in the evening, Eric jammed with Buddy Guy, with Jack on organ.
In April of '69, Ginger and Eric took part in the recording of Billy Preston's That's the Way God Planned It single.
By this time Ginger had joined Eric, Steve Winwood and Rick Grech in Blind Faith.
Blind Faith were plagued with many of the same problems that had led to the demise
of Cream, and after just one album and tour, they disbanded.
In the summer of 1970, Eric and Ginger jam with George Harrison, Klaus Voorman
and Billy Preston on I Remember Jeep, recorded during the sessions for
George Harrison's All Things Must Pass triple LP.
Apparently, Eric did some recording with Ginger at Island Studios in 1978, but none
of these recordings have ever been released.
Late in '89 Eric jammed with Jack at the Bottom Line Club in New York.
In '92 Eric joined Jack again, playing three tracks on Jack's Somethimg Els CD.
"It was great. Eric is a real master. It was excellent to watch him working," says Jack. "The songs were written very much with him in mind."
Ginger had also jammed with Jack in '89 at the Bottom Line Club, and most of that set has been bootlegged. Jack and Ginger have, in fact, played together often during the ninties,
even touring together for a time.
In November of '93, Gary Moore joined Bruce and Baker on stage at a concert in Cologne, Germany.
Much of the concerts, recorded over two days (November 2 and 3),
1) The photo of Eric playing in the marquee with Charlie Watts and Georgie Fame isn't actually from his
own wedding party. It was taken at Glyn John's wedding.|
2) Jack's Something Els CD is entitled as a tribute to a local drink in the German town where Bruce recorded the album.
Els is a favorite libation of the folks near the German-Belgian border.
"It tastes like cough medicine," laughs Jack. "It was the only drink that stayed in the bottle throughout the session".
Photo Credits; Top left; The Marquee, photo; Paul Canty.
Middle; Blind Faith, photo; RSO Records.
Bottom; With Gary Moore, photo; Guido Harari.