Jack Bruce

From Academic Kids

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Cream bassist Jack Bruce in 1967.

Jack Bruce (born May 14, 1943) is a musician (bass guitar, harmonica, cello and occasional piano), singer and songwriter.

He first came to attention playing string bass with Graham Bond in the early 1960s. That group covered a range of music, from bebop to rhythm and blues, and blues. It included drummer Ginger Baker.

During the time Bruce and Baker played with Bond, they were known for loathing each other. Stories of the two sabotaging each other's equipment and physically fighting on stage were numerous, and eventually Baker, having de facto control of the group, fired Bruce.

He played with the John Mayall group and Manfred Mann before moving on to his most famous role as bass player and lead vocalist in the power trio (some would say the first "supergroup") Cream with Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton. Despite their hostility towards each other, Bruce and Baker were able to put aside their differences for the sake of the band.

Bruce wrote the most of Cream's original material with lyricist Pete Brown, including the classics "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room," "Politician," and "I Feel Free." Cream sold over 35,000,000 albums and were awarded the first-ever platinum disc for their album Wheels of Fire.

Jack's playing was clearly based on his classical training and he has said that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the greatest bass-lines ever. Bruce's bass playing influences also include James Jamerson and Charlie Mingus.

In the early days of Cream, Jack played a Fender VI (6 string) bass whose narrow string spacing, and shorter than average scale-length, made it the ideal vehicle for a nimble-thinking and nimble-fingered innovator like Jack.

His next bass was another short-scale model, but this time a more normal looking four-string with 2 powerful pickups. His Gibson EB3, combined with the Marshall amplifiers he used, was (at least in part) responsible for the thick, brooding bass sound that Jack used on albums like Wheels of Fire.

Over the years since Cream, Jack has worked with many fine musicians and collaborated with jazz greats like Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, and Carla Bley (on the Escalator Over the Hill album). His initial solo albums after Cream were Songs For a Tailor (with players like Chris Spedding, John Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Art Themen and George Harrison), Harmony Row and Into The Storm, then he diversified into jazz again. He later spent time playing as part of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band.

Bruce continued touring and recording through the late 1990s, often playing a custom Warwick fretless bass and using Hartke amplifiers. In the early 2000s he had a sustained period of declining health, and in the summer of 2003 was diagnosed with liver cancer. Bruce underwent a liver transplant in September of 2003 which nearly proved fatal as his body initially rejected the new organ. He has since recovered from this setback and in May 2005 reunited with former bandmates Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker for a series of concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall.

External link

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