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Blues News: The End of Cream

cream soundcheck

The British psychedelic, blues-rock supergroup Cream put an end to their short, albeit substantially important, unquestionably influential and quite successful musical career in November of 1968. The band, regarded as the first successful supergroup, consisted of Eric Clapton (fresh from John Mayall & the Blues Breakers), Peter “Ginger” Baker (of the Graham Bond Organisation), and Jack Bruce (at one time a part of both the Breakers and Bond Organisation), all of which were considered the “cream” of the British musician “crop”.

Cream would release three albums while together, Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, and Wheels of Fire (which became the first platinum-selling double album). Tensions however existed in the band from its inception, particularly between Baker and Bruce. The two had a volatile relationship while working together in the Bond Organisation, including onstage fights and instrument sabotage. At one point, Baker threatened Bruce at knifepoint after the musician continued to show up for gigs after being fired. After the completion of Wheels, the group announced that they would be disbanding after a farewell tour. The rivalry and tensions between Bruce and Baker had also reached their breaking points (Baker would have to compete with Bruce’s roaring bass amps and claims his hearing was permanently damaged from the volume). Clapton felt that the band members didn’t communicate and were just showing off at performances.

The band’s final concerts were held at the Royal Albert Hall on the November 25 and 26, and their fourth and final album, Goodbye, was released in February the following year and was not as well received as the trio’s previous efforts. Cream would reunite for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and for a string of shows in London and New York in 2005, all of which were critical and commercial smash successes. Rumors of tours since then have been squashed, as it appears Cream has officially and permanently been laid to rest. [Photo by Tony Gale]

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