A rock artist who was a member of one of the seminal bands of the 1960s, who co-wrote and sang lead vocals on the 1967 hit “Sunshine of Your Love” as a member of Cream, has died. The New York Times reports that Jack Bruce died Saturday at his home in Suffolk, England, at 71.
“His family announced the death on his website. A spokesman said the cause was liver disease; Mr. Bruce had received a liver transplant several years ago,” the story reports.
Bruce was best-known as the bass player and lead singer for Cream, which also featured Eric Clapton on guitar and Ginger Baker on drums.
“One of the first of the so-called power trios — the Jimi Hendrix Experience soon followed in its wake — Cream had its roots in the blues and became known for Mr. Clapton’s long, virtuosic solos on reworked versions of blues standards like ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Spoonful.'” the report notes.
The piece quotes Bruce in the notes to a 1997 Cream compilation saying: “Those original blues records had been done so well, which meant you could only ever be second best. But if you treated those songs with a great deal of love and respect, you could remake them into your own.”
Bruce had a hand in writing many of Cream’s originals, including “Sunshine of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “White Room.”
“Mr. Bruce did most of the singing, in a polished tenor that could be both powerful and plaintive, and his fluid and propulsive playing provided a solid counterpoint to Mr. Baker’s explosive drumming and Mr. Clapton’s guitar pyrotechnics,” The Times notes. “His inventive introductions to songs like ‘Badge’ were an essential part of Cream’s sound. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd recently called Mr. Bruce ‘probably the most musically gifted bass player who’s ever been.’”
Bruce went on to a long solo career after Cream disbanded. “Friction between Mr. Bruce and Mr. Baker is the reason most often cited for the group’s breakup in 1968, after touring extensively and releasing four albums whose total sales have been estimated at 35 million,” the report notes.
Although Bruce considered himself a jazz musician, his later work included stints with a number of rock outfits, including Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. He also collaborated with guitarist Robin Trower and with Leslie West and Corky Laing.
“Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2006,” The Times notes. “In 2005, the band reunited for concerts in London and New York.”
Here’s a live performance of “Sunshine of Your Love” from the Cream farewell concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1968: