Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce circa
Jack Bruce circa 1967 when looking
like a dog's dinner was cool

Let's not beat around the bush here, Jack Bruce is simply the greatest Blues/Rock bassist that ever walked the face of this planet. And he's Scottish. What more do you need to know?

Oh alright then, but honestly, you really ought to know this stuff already, the man's a living legend for godssake.

Jack Bruce was born in Glasgow in May 1943. His parents, both musical, travelled extensively, as a result of which he attended no fewer than 14 schools, finishing up at Bellahouston Academy. From there he won a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, studying cello and composition, but left at the age of 17 because he thought he knew better than the professors teaching him.

He travelled around Italy and England for the next two years, picking up experience playing double-bass in various dance bands and jazz groups until, in 1962, he joined Alexis Korner's Blues Inc., with whom Charlie Watts, later of Rolling Stones' fame, was the drummer.

In 1963, Jack left to form a band with organist Graham Bond, guitarist John McLaughlin and drummer Ginger Baker. Ultimately named the Graham Bond Organisation, Jack was compelled to leave after 3 years at the insistence of Ginger Baker, who (rather ironically, with the benefit of hindsight) complained that his bass playing was "too busy"!

Undeterred, Jack joined John Mayall's Blues Breakers, where he first met a not bad guitarist by name of Clapton, and also had a short spell playing with Manfred Mann.

Jack Bruce with a few minor musicians called Clapton and Baker
Jack Bruce with a few minor musicians called
Clapton and Baker .....

In 1966, Jack was asked to join a trio being put together by Ginger Baker (whose drum playing by now was obviously a lot busier!), with Eric Clapton as the third member, and so the world's first Supergroup was born.

Cream went on to sell 35 million albums and were awarded the first ever platinum disc for "Wheels of Fire", a seminal recording if ever there was one. They split up in November 1968, at the height of their popularity.

Since then, Jack has pursued a varied career that has seen him collaborate with some of the biggest names in music, including Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, Gary Moore, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Dave Edmunds, Todd Rundgren, Peter Frampton, Gary Brooker and Ringo Starr, to name but a few.

He explores music in the way that David Livingstone explored Continents and has played the world in the company of bands ranging from a 13 piece Latin/Jazz/Rock fusion ensemble to the Niederosterreichischen Tonkiinstler Symphony Orchestra of Vienna.

Composer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, Jack Bruce's free-spirited approach to both writing and performing changed the face of electric music forever and paved the yellow brick heavy metal way for bands like Led Zeppelin to follow. His freewheeling, improvisational style on the electric bass entirely redefined the use of the instrument and influenced the playing of a whole new generation of bassists, from Sting to Jaco Pastorius.

Jack Bruce live in 1999
Jack Bruce live in 1999

As a musician he is virtually impossible to define. Indeed his goal, it seems, has always been to redefine, creating new kinds of music that break the barriers of tradition, sounds that have never previously been heard. Today, he is equally as happy (and proficient) on keyboards as he ever was on bass.

Given the extreme diversity of Jack Bruce's abilities and continuing achievements, therefore, it is perhaps ironic that he will forever be most remembered as the main man who made Cream the crème de la crème during what was but a relatively small part of a long and multi-faceted career. Even so, we make no apologies for selecting, as our "tracks you must hear before you die", the absolutely magnificent "I Feel Free", "Sunshine of Your Love", "Badge" and "White Room". This was awesome stuff that changed the world.

JACK BRUCE TRIVIA FOOTNOTE

After leaving the Graham Bond Organisation in 1966, Jack turned down an invitation from Marvin Gaye to join his US based band, citing the lame excuse that he was about to get married. It's true. We heard it through the grapevine.

You may also be interested in -