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.