Blues News

No Sour Notes at Rock Hall Induction for Cream

Special things can happen at music awards ceremonies, and perhaps one of the most special occurred at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on January 12, 1993. Not only was the band Cream to be inducted into the Hall, but rumors were flying that Cream would be reuniting to perform at the ceremony. Cream, of course, on top of being a wonderful band, was a pioneer in rock history in several ways. For starters, they were one of the earliest blues-rock bands when they first came together in 1966, though perhaps the real kickoff of the genre was Eric Clapton’s previous collaboration with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Second, Cream engineered the form of the rock power trio, a band consisting of only three instrumentalists, (usually) guitar, bass, and drums. Finally, the band is considered the first truly successful rock supergroup, a band constituted by members who were also former members of other highly successful musical acts.

This was true for all three members of Cream. Clapton, of course, in addition to being associated with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, was also a member of The Yardbirds, while bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker were former members of the Graham Bond Organization. Bruce and Baker were famously antagonistic prior to joining Cream, but agreed to put their differences aside to form the new band with Clapton. The result was a tour de force of blistering blues rock influenced by psychedelic and jazz elements. Some of their greatest songs included the monstrously catchy “White Room,” the dreamy “Strange Brew” featuring Clapton on vocals, the Skip James penned rocker “I’m So Glad,” and, a personal favorite, the mysterious and sensual “Spoonful”, a Willie Dixon composition originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf. After the release of several highly successful studio albums including Fresh Cream and Disraeli Gears, as well as the first ever platinum-selling double live album in Wheels of Fire, Cream unfortunately disbanded in 1968 due to internal band tensions.

It would be 25 years before the trio played together again at the induction ceremony. The setlist consisted of the incredible, riff-heavy “Sunshine of Your Love,” Albert King’s blues classic “Born Under a Bad Sign,” a cover the group had never before performed together, and the band’s blazing, signature version of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads.” The band was inducted by blues-rock vets ZZ Top. After the group’s comeback performance at the induction ceremony, the trio continued to reunite for several more shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall and at Madison Square Garden. Although the unfortunate passing of Bruce in 2014 renders another reunion by the band impossible, we will always have the glorious memory of Jack, Eric, and Ginger playing together again thanks to one incredible Rock Hall induction ceremony. [Photo by Kevork Djansezian]

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