As bassist and singer in Cream, one of the world’s greatest bands, Jack Bruce was a legend before his 25th birthday. At the age of 19 he was a memeber of Alexis Corner’s Blues Incorporated, next he was in a band with Graham Bond evolving into The Graham Bond Organisation with Ginger Baker before John Mayall’s Blues Breakers where he teamed up with Eric Clapton. Then came a short stint with Manfred Mann and a No.1 single with Pretty Flamingo before Cream formed for two short years making groundbreaking music between 1966 – 1968 with their blues pyschedelia.
Bruce went onto make memorable solo albums and many collaborations beginning with Songs For a Tailor in 1969 featuring George Harrison on the opening track, Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune (credited as L’Angelo Misterioso). Bruce’s bass playing was technical, emotional, fluent with a tone like an escaped bulldozer that sat under his expressive vocal, the motor always running below as the melodies flew above.
As a songwriter he co-wrote some and sang most of Cream’s songs along with lyric writer and poet Pete Brown (Dance The Night Away and White Room) or Eric Clapton and Brown (Sunshine Of Your Love) and also with his first wife Janet Godfrey (I Feel Free). Theme For An Imaginary Western was another stand out song from his first solo release written with Brown. He released his second solo album first (Songs For A Tailor) and his first album (Things We Like) second and incredibly after posting the Fairport Convention Time Will Be The Wiser article yesterday I discovered this from wikipedia on Songs For A Tailor :
“The album was titled in tribute to Jeannie Franklyn (“Genie the Tailor”), a clothing designer who designed wardrobes for Cream and was also the girlfriend of Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson (and, according to Bruce’s 2010 biography Composing Himself, an ex-lover of Bruce’s). In 1969, Franklyn wrote Bruce a letter requesting that he “sing some high notes for me,” a letter that reached him on 14 May 1969, two days after she was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Fairport Convention’s touring van. Franklyn died—and Bruce received the letter from her—on his 26th birthday.”
Bruce went on to explore his diverse musical interests- he was Blues, he was Jazz, he was Pop, he was Rock he could do anything. After Mick Taylor left The Stones he joined Jack Bruce’s band. Although he played with countless diverse musicians both famous and unknown his ‘special’ and ‘difficult’ relationship with Ginger Baker was well known. I read an article once where, when Bruce was living in Scotland he heard that Ginger Baker had moved to South Africa, “Too close” was his comment.
Jack Bruce died today of liver disease aged 71 (Saturday 25th October). Deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Please listen to his music in memory of his great talent.