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Jack Bruce, Legendary Cream Bassist, Dies

Jack Bruce
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Jack Bruce, whose bass and vocals powered the enormously influential Cream, has died at the age of 71.

Earlier today (Oct. 25), a message on Bruce’s website was posted that read, “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, 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.” The Guardian says that liver disease was the cause of death.

Born in Scotland in 1943, Bruce gravitated to jazz bass in his teens. Leaving school to pursue his musical career, he wound up in London in 1962, where he became a fixture on that city’s nascent blues scene. First he played with Alexis Korner in Blues Incorporated, then he and drummer Ginger Baker formed the Graham Bond Organisation.

In 1965, he joined John Mayall‘s Bluesbreakers, whose guitarist, Eric Clapton, was making quite a name for himself. But he soon left Mayall for Manfred Mann, playing on their hit ‘Pretty Flamingo’ before Baker and Clapton approached him in the summer of 1966 about their idea for a new concept, which became known as a “power trio.”

They called themselves Cream, because of their reputation as being the best musicians on the scene. In a remarkable, but brief, two and a half years, Cream helped redefine rock n’ roll by stretching out songs with lengthy improvisational solos that showed off their technical prowess. But they also had enough pop sensibilities to place ‘I Feel Free,’ ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ and ‘White Room’ — all of which featured Bruce’s exceptional singing — on the charts.

After Cream’s breakup in 1969, Bruce carried on mostly as a solo act, but occasionally returned to the power trio format, most notably in the early ’70s with Leslie West and Corky Laing of Mountain. Other projects featured musicians of similar stature, including three stints in Ringo Starr‘s All-Starr Band between 1996 and 2000.

In 2003, Bruce nearly died from complications following a liver transplant. Upon his recovery, he reunited with Cream for high-profile shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Madison Square Garden. He continued to be an active musician until the end, releasing ‘Silver Rails’ in March 2014. Last month he spoke with Ultimate Classic Rock about the rise and fall of supergroups.

Ginger Baker released the following statement via Facebook. “I am very sad to learn of the loss of a fine man, Jack Bruce… My thoughts & wishes are with his family at this difficult time.”

 

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost In 2014

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