Wel­come 3

Guitar Techniques - - Front Page - Neville Marten, Ed­i­tor neville.marten@fu­turenet.com

Nev talks about Jack Bruce and more...

sad but true, we’ve reached a time in the world when mu­sic leg­ends are pass­ing on in droves. In one week in Bri­tain re­cently we lost three: pop-rock idol Alvin Star­dust, trad jazz clar­inet icon Acker Bilk, and, most per­son­ally sad for me, the in­com­pa­ra­ble Jack Bruce.

I didn’t know Jack at all, but the mu­sic he made with Eric and Ginger fu­elled my de­sire to play blues and rock gui­tar. He was the mu­si­cal glue that held those two to­gether, link­ing the rhyth­mic and har­monic el­e­ments in Cream to form some­thing spec­tac­u­lar. And if you’ve never delved beyond Cream into Jack’s solo works, then I rec­om­mend you check them out to see just what a tal­ent he was.

A cou­ple of years ago I went to see his big band per­form at the Royal Fes­ti­val Hall. Joe Bonamassa was stand­ing in for the re­cently demised Gary Moore, tak­ing the ‘Clap­ton’ parts in the Cream sec­tion of the evening. The show was ex­cel­lent, but Jack was flaw­less. His vo­cals were sub­lime and he never played a note even vaguely sharp or flat on his War­wick fret­less. I was there on be­half of GT and Gui­tarist and so had after-show passes. Jack came back to meet friends and fam­ily who had come, so I girded my loins and went over to tell him how bril­liant I thought he’d been. With his fiery rep­u­ta­tion I wor­ried that he might think me just another syco­phan­tic punter; still, I in­tro­duced my­self and paid my com­pli­ments. A tiny man for such a huge pres­ence, he looked me straight in the eye, smiled and said, qui­etly, “Oh, thank you, man. Com­ing from you that means a lot.” It meant a whole lot more to me that this gi­ant of my youth had the tini­est inkling of who I was.

While it’s good to see some of the great bands per­se­ver­ing when key mem­bers have gone - and why the hell not? - if the same un­likely thought ever oc­curred to Eric and Ginger, I’d ven­ture it would be im­pos­si­ble. I don’t think there’s ever been a more equal set of mu­si­cians in a band; and one could eas­ily ar­gure that Jack was the most vi­tal in­gre­di­ent of all. There’s never been a bassist like him, and there will never be another band like Cream. RIP Jack. Our con­do­lences to friends and fam­ily.

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