Cream were a short lived, but highly influential blues rock trio in the mid to late sixties. Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce came together to create some of the most revolutionary music of the era. Started as a money making venture, and not just a means of taking the blues to a new level, Cream was never destined to last for very long.

"We did want to surprise them in a way because we didn't want them to sort of just you know accept us as a blues band. We want to be something more than that.."
- Eric Clapton.

Bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker met when they both played with Blues Incorporated which they later left along with Graham Bond to form the Graham Bond Organization. The scene was set for later tensions when Baker forced Bruce to leave the band in 1965 by threatening him with a knife.

After this, Bruce went on to join the Bluesbreakers, where he met ex-Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton. It was now that Clapton really began to make an impression, and the first few fans were declaring adamantly that "Clapton is God." Cream began to emerge in 1966, when Baker asked to sit in on a Bluesbreakers gig. Clapton felt an immediate connection, but was surprised when Baker aproached him several months later with the suggestion of forming their own band. The whole idea was almost scuppered when Clapton insisted that Bruce be the Bassist. Clapton had been impressed by Bruce's versatility and Baker was eventually made to apologise for booting him from the Organization, and for threatening him.

The first real rehearsals took place in June 1966, and the band spent the rest of that year touring the British Blues club circuit. They released their first album, "Fresh Cream," in December that year, to chart success and critical praise. The Album contained all the raw material that would catapult the band to world fame, but was not as solid as their later material.

A true turning point for the band came when Felix Pappalardi walked in during the recording of their second album. He liked the music and asked if he could put some words on the track they had just recorded. The band agreed and the next day Pappalardi came back with "Strange Brew." 1967's, "Disraeli Gears," produced by Pappalardi is remembered as one of the greatest Rock n' Roll albums of all time. The new psychedelic sound took the band further from traditional blues than they had ever imagined. "Strange Brew" became a hit single, as did the much heavier "Sunshine of your love."

With Pappalardi producing, the Cream had now found their form, and 1968 saw the release of the wildly successful "Wheels of fire" double album, one disc of new studio material, and one with live performances that showcases their wild experimentation and improvisation on stage. The studio recordings included classics like "White Room" and "Pressed Rat and Warthog."

Inevitably, the success, and inner turmoil began to wear the band down, and 1968 also saw them fall apart. They grew tired of their own popularity when they realised that they could not avoid an ovation, however poorly they played. It was around this time that the critics turned against them. The renowned Rolling Stone Magazine called Clapton "the master of blues clichés." It was a unanimous decision that the band should split. Coming at the height of their success, this news shocked fans and critics alike. The band played a series of mediocre farewell concerts at the Royal Albert hall, and released "Goodbye," which was something of a Post-mortem of the bands meteoric rise to fame.

Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce very nearly sunk into obscurity. They still collaborate together, despite being old enemies. In the nineties they joined with ex Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore, to form BBM, but Moore was never really committed.

Eric Clapton went on to have one of the most successful and lengthy careers in Rock history. His string of solo albums produced hits like "Layla" and "Cocaine." Today he is recognised as one of the greatest living guitarists.

In their short two years together, Cream truly revolutionised Rock music. It is impossible to tell how far their influence extends. Jimi Hendrix, who was just emerging whilst Cream were at their most popular, was known to be a big fan. On one occasion he stopped in the middle of a performance and started playing "Sunshine of your love." Along with Hendrix, bands like Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, and others, the Cream inspired a new generation of musicians, who would go on to create the Hard rock and early Heavy Metal that would dominate the charts in the early seventies. They also made a lot of money.

"We want to make money. I've been working too hard for too little for too long and I thought it's time I did something about it."
- Eric Clapton.

Update 11th of April, 2006

In May 2005 Cream reunited to play four dates at the Royal Albert Hall, and three dates at Madison Square Garden in New York later that year. Tickets for the London dates sold out within minutes, and Eric Clapton wept openly on stage as he thanked the assembled fans for waiting 37 years for their return. Although the band were a little rusty, the performances had excellent reviews. A DVD of the performance, and a live album containing the best cuts from their London dates was released.

Discography.

Albums.

Singles: U.K.

  • Wrapping Paper/Cat's Squirrel - 1966
  • I Feel Free/N.S.U. - 1966
  • Strange Brew/Tales Of Brave Ulysses - 1967
  • Anyone For Tennis/Pressed Rat And Warthog - 1968
  • Sunshine Of Your Love/SWLABR - 1968
  • White Room/Those Were The Days - 1969
  • Badge/White Room Polydor - 1969

Singles: U.S.

  • I Feel Free/N.S.U. - 1967
  • Strange Brew/Tales Of Brave Ullysses - 1967
  • Spoonful/Spoonful, Part 2 - 1967
  • Sunshine Of Your Love/S.W.L.A.B.R. - 1967
  • Anyone For Tennis?/Pressed Rat And Warthog - 1968
  • White Room/Those Were The Days - 1968
  • Crossroads/Passing The Time - 1968
  • Badge/What A Bringdown - 1969
  • Sweet Wine/Lawdy Mama - 1969

Source: www.thecream.net