Bassist Jack Bruce, best remembered for his stint in Cream, the 1960s English power trio which took the sounds of the blues and electrified them to the hilt, ultimately unconsciously coining the term “supergroup,” died today at his home in Suffolk. He was 71.
The news was confirmed by Bruce’s publicist, who also mentioned that the musician’s family was by his side in his final moments. The news was also posted to Bruce’s official Facebook page this morning. No cause of death has been revealed at this time, though it was reported that he had suffered from liver disease.
It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.
Sharing lead vocal duties in Cream with guitarist Eric Clapton and forming half of a muscular, riveting, exciting bottom end with drummer Ginger Baker, the Lanarkshire-born Jack Bruce quickly became part of the legendary bass player lexicon. Playing with a soulful, yet muscular kind of approach, bluesy, and with almost jazzy kind of standup bass kind runs on the fretboard, Bruce’s presence instantly permeated Cream songs, and there were many memorable ones: “White Room,” “I Feel Free,” the cover of Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Badge,” “Politician,” “Strange Brew,” and of course “Sunshine of Your Love,” among many others. They were only around for a scant amount of years, and released on a scant amount of albums (the double set live/studio Wheels of Fire being the probable peak), but the trio had a rabid following and a confidence about them that reached fever pitch, musically, financially and creatively.
After Cream’s breakup in 1969, Bruce remained active, albeit sort of behind the scenes; he released solo records which at the start borderlined on an eclectic mix of genres like English baroque, folk, and ballads, and later on would also dabble in jazz and rock idioms. A highlight of his solo career is his hyper funk playing on Frank Zappa’s title song of his 1974 opus, Apostrophe. In 1995, he reunited with Cream for one last time for a series of shows in high profile arenas such as England’s Royal Albert Hall and New York City’s Madison Square Garden. (The band had also briefly reunited for their 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)
Jack Bruce was a titan on his respective instrument. Watch the ripple effect of well deserved applause, remembrance, and platitudes of the highest order start to happen within the next days, months, years, and into eternity, for one of the great figures in the annals of rock and roll.