Cream

            The best way to describe Cream would be as a perfect balance between psychedelic rock and blues rock. The band consisted of Ginger Baker on drums, Jack Bruce on bass and vocals, and legendary rock musician Eric Clapton on vocals and guitar. They also worked closely with an associate of Jack Bruce’s, poet and songwriter Pete Brown. Together Pete Brown and the power trio of Cream helped to popularize the wah-wah pedal while leaving a strong mark on the rock and roll industry. Their ability to write songs that were heavy and fast-paced while simultaneously catchy and complicated would influence other bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Cream was only together from 1966 to 1968 (with a couple of later reunions), but the mark they left in that short time span was prodigious. They had major hits such as “Crossroads” and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which were strongly inspired by blues music. They also had more psychedelic hits such as “Toad” and “Strange Brew.” They relished in the use of equipment, not only the wah-wah pedal but also huge Marshall amps and double bass drums.

The effect that Cream had on the rock music scene during the 1960s could be seen in the shows they did with other big names. Jimi Hendrix jammed with them on stage, performing some of his signature moves such as playing the guitar with his teeth. Pink Floyd often performed in the same venues as Cream, and they inspired bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Beatles as well. Cream showed all of these performers that music could be edgy and unique while still achieving pop status.

Ginger Baker was similar to Keith Moon in the sense that he managed to maintain a unique rhythmic style, complemented by fast and explosive arm motions. Jack Bruce as known for his sheer talent, as was Eric Clapton. Together, they created songs that were just as bluesy as the Doors but more innovative in their assimilation of other musical styles. They wrote songs that were progressive without completely breaking convention, such as “I Feel Free,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” and “White Room.”

The band’s love of equipment would ultimately lead to their breakup in 1968. According to Eric Clapton, the new volume capacities of Marshall amp stacks and other advances in concert equipment led to a period late in the band’s career during which many of their performances were simply excuses to showboat their equipment and their abilities. With three musicians as talented as those of Cream, this led to onstage competitions during which each band member’s attempts to push their equipment to its limits led to three amazing musicians virtually cancelling each other out. During one concert, Clapton stopped playing altogether.

Following the band’s breakup, they used the talents and the love for innovation that they had developed to other bands. One album was released by Baker and Clapton along with Ric Grech and Steve Winwood. This album, Blind Faith, has been said to share many stylistic traits with Cream. After Blind Faith broke up, Ginger Baker started a new band with guitarist Denny Laine (known for his work with the Moody Blues). Meanwhile, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton both went solo.

Eric Clapton is by far the most famous name to come out of Cream, but each of the three musicians were successful in their own right. In just a few short years, they managed to influence some of the biggest names in rock and roll from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page. There are not many bands with three-year careers that can say the same.

You might also like

Rock N Roll

Lynyrd Skynyrd

            In 1966, a band called The Pretty Ones made their debut in Jacksonville. Over the next two years, their style would be associated with

Rock N Roll

James Taylor

            James Taylor began achieving success in the 1970s, both for the songs that he wrote himself and the covers he performed of famous classics.

Rock N Roll

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis is notable as one of the first truly wild and unrestrained personalities to influence rock and roll music in the 1950s. His first truly popular single was

Rock N Roll

Pink Floyd

            Pink Floyd was formed in 1965, and throughout the 1960s and 1970s they became one of the biggest names in psychedelic rock. They also

Rock N Roll

The Kinks

            The Kinks were primarily influential during the British Invasion of the 1960s, but their impact on the music industry is almost surprising. Despite working

Rock N Roll

The Who

The Who was one of the most popular rock bands to come out of England in 1964. The band’s most well-known lineup included John Entwistle on bass, Keith Moon on