JACK BRUCE DEAD AT 71

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Word has just come in that Jack Bruce died on October 25, 2014. He was 71

John Symon Asher “Jack” Bruce was born May 14, 1943 in Bishopbriggs Scotland. He trained in his youth to be a classical cellist but soon adapted his skills to bass guitar during the British Blues boom in the early sixties. He referred to himself as a Jazz musician and his discography reflects this eclecticism; ranging from his critically acclaimed 1969 solo album “Songs For A Tailor” to his surprising 1995 solo piano foray “Monkjack”.

Bruce was already a grizzled veteran of the British Blues and Beat scenes before he ever strapped on a Gibson EBO bass for Cream. Bruce played with Manfred Mann, John Mayall and Alexis Korner before he formed the supergroup in 1966 with Ginger Baker and recently anointed “God” Eric Clapton.  Cream was one of the first “jam” bands to crash the Billboard charts. They had monster hits with “Sunshine Of Your Love” and “White Room” (both featuring Bruce’s supple bass work and his honey-sweet tenor).  Jack Bruce’s voice was able to sell the hits as well as the blues standards that were the backbone of Cream’s live repertoire. Moreover, his voice and playing remained strong even in his later years despite the travails of substance abuse, a harrowing 2003 liver transplant, three divorces, and financial misadventure. In Cream, Clapton got the accolades and the celebrity, but Jack Bruce delivered the panache’.

Jack Bruce was a towering figure in the history of Rock and Roll despite the fact he was (sometimes) overshadowed by the Eric Clapton “brand” during his tenure in Cream. Bruce is survived by his wife and two children.

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Later in his career, Bruce began exploring the fret-less bass. His bass playing always had a rubbery, liquid quality; so the move made sense.  Bruce could be as athletic in his playing and singing as you could want. But, his roots were the blues. Here is Bruce at the 2005 Cream reunion unbowed by a recent near death surgery, deconstructing Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign”. Note his comping behind Eric Clapton’s guitar solo. A master class on how to play the blues without being a root-chugging automaton.

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