The music world lost a great today when Cream bassist Jack Bruce passed away.
As reported by BBC:
Jack Bruce, bassist from 1960s band Cream, has died aged 71, his publicist confirms.
Legendary supergroup Cream, which also included Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, are now considered one of the most important bands in rock history.
They sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were given the first ever platinum disc for Wheels of Fire.
Bruce wrote and sang most of the songs, including “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”.
Gotta love the cigarette on the headstock of Bruce’s bass in that video.
Cream split in November 1968 at the height of their popularity, with Bruce feeling he had strayed too far from his ideals.
Bruce never again reached the commercial heights he did with Cream but his reputation as one of the best bass guitarists in the business grew throughout the subsequent decades.
One track that sticks out in my mind which apparently features Jack Bruce on bass is the title track from Frank Zappa‘s 1974 album Apostrophe (‘).
However, when asked about it, Bruce claims he did not contribute any bass parts to the song. From Professor Wikipedia:
The title track is an instrumental jam featuring Cream bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Jim Gordon. Jack Bruce is credited on the album cover with bass guitar and co-writing the title song. However, in his interview for Polish rock magazine Tylko Rock he jokingly insisted to journalist Wiesław Weiss that he had not played any bass guitar parts on “Apostrophe (‘)”, only the cello parts. Bruce learned cello as a child and plays it on some of his other recordings. However, his cello comments regarding “Apostrophe (‘)” can’t be taken seriously, because the only cello featured on the album is contained in the opening of the title track. His bass playing on “Apostrophe (‘)” does in fact sound at times very much like the bass lines that he played with Cream.
(Tylko Rock, Oct. 1992, pp. 17)
- “WW: Can you tell me something about your cooperation with Frank Zappa?
- JB: Sure, what do you happen to know? (laughs)
- WW: You appeared on his Apostrophe album…
- JB: Yes, as you know, at the time I was recording an album with Carla Bley, far more interesting one… you heard that?
- WW: Yes, Escalator over the Hill…
- JB: Right. So Frank, whom I met earlier, appeared one day in the studio and asked me: “Can you take your cello and go to my session?” So I turned up in a NY studio with my cello, I’m listening to his music, pretty awful, and just don’t know what to do with myself, and Frank says to me: “Listen, I would like you to play a sound, like this… whaaaaaang!!!” So I did what he asked me to do. Whaaaaaang!!! That was all. That was my input to Frank Zappa’s most popular record! (laughs) “
However, in an interview in Guitar Player Magazine from January 1977, Zappa talks about his experience with Jack Bruce’s bass playing on the song:
- Q: What about playing with (bass guitarist) Jack Bruce on Apostrophe?
- FZ: Well, that was just a jam thing that happened because he was a friend of (drummer) Jim Gordon. I found it very difficult to play with him; he’s too busy. He doesn’t really want to play the bass in terms of root functions; I think he has other things on his mind. But that’s the way jam sessions go.
Jack Bruce suffered a period of declining health, and in 2003, was diagnosed with liver cancer. He underwent a liver transplant in September 2003, which was almost fatal after his body initially rejected the new organ. He went on to recover, and in 2005, he reunited with Cream bandmates Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker for a series of shows at the Royal Albert Hall.
Bruce’s death was announced on his official website, and confirmed by his publicist Claire Singers.
She said: “He died today at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family.”
A statement from his family said: “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father and granddad and all-round legend.
“The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”
Rest in Peace, Mr. Bruce.