Jack Bruce, the composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist, has died of liver disease, aged 71.
News broke on the afternoon of 25th October when his family posted this on Jack’s Facebook page: “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.” He died at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family.
Bruce was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1943 and briefly attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music on a cello scholarship, but dropped out because the school wouldn’t let him play jazz. He was supposedly offered a touring spot with Marvin Gaye in the 1960s, but turned it down in favour of joining John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he replaced John McVie. That’s how he met Eric Clapton.
In 1966 he alongside guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker formed what became generally accepted as the world’s first supergroup, Cream. He wrote and sang most of their big hit songs, including I Feel Free, White Room, Badge and one of the world’s most performed guitar riff, on Sunshine of Your Love.
They sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were awarded a platinum disc for their album Wheels of Fire in 1968. They split later the same year and at the height of their popularity. Bruce felt that he had strayed too far from his ideals and wanted to re-discover his musical and social roots.
He released several solo albums over the years but only 1969s Songs for A Taylor made the UK chart where it reached number six. He appeared on other people’s hit including The Mersey’s hit Sorrow, The Scaffold’s Lily the Pink, Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe. He did appear on a number one when he briefly joined Manfred Mann in 1965 and featured on Pretty Flamingo.
In 1993, Cream were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They received a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2006 and in 2005, they reunited for a tour.
In tribute, Roger Waters, Pink Floyds bassist wrote, “Jack Bruce is probably the most musically gifted bass player who’s ever been.”