Jack Bruce, Cream’s Adventurous Bassist, Dies at 71

 Jack Bruce, left, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker performing together as Cream in 2005. Credit Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Jack Bruce, left, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker performing together as Cream in 2005. Credit Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Oct 25, 2014

Jack Bruce, who became famous in the 1960s as the bassist and lead vocalist for the hugely successful rock group Cream, and whose adventurous approach to his instrument influenced two generations of rock bassists, died on Saturday at his home in Suffolk, England. He was 71.

The famous rocker died a few weeks before the band’s release of a box set on November 24th.

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.

Mr. Bruce was well known in British rock and blues circles but virtually unknown in the United States when he teamed with the guitarist Eric Clapton and the drummer Ginger Baker to form Cream in 1966.

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.”

“Those original blues records had been done so well, which meant you could only ever be second best,” Mr. Bruce was quoted in the booklet for a 1997 Cream compilation CD. “But if you treated those songs with a great deal of love and respect, you could remake them into your own.”

 Mr. Bruce performing with Cream at a music festival in Windsor, England, in the late 1960s. Credit David Redfern/Redferns

Mr. Bruce performing with Cream at a music festival in Windsor, England, in the late 1960s. Credit David Redfern/Redferns

There were also many original compositions in Cream’s repertoire, most of them — including the hits “Sunshine of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “White Room” — written by Mr. Bruce, usually with lyrics by the poet Pete Brown. (“Sunshine,” the group’s biggest hit, was a rare Bruce-Brown-Clapton collaboration.)

Mr. Bruce did most of the singing, in a polished tenor that could be both powerful and plaintive, and his fluid playing provided a solid counterpoint to Mr. Baker’s explosive drumming and Mr. Clapton’s guitar pyrotechnics. 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.”

Cream enjoyed almost immediate success but did not last long. 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.

Mr. Clapton and Mr. Baker soon reunited and joined with the keyboardist and guitarist Steve Winwood and the bassist Ric Grech to form the group Blind Faith. Despite high expectations, Blind Faith proved to be even more short-lived than Cream, disbanding after one album and one tour. Mr. Bruce, meanwhile, was charting a more ambitious if less commercial musical course.

He recorded a jazz album, “Things We Like,” shortly before Cream disbanded, although it was not released until after an album in a more conventional rock vein, “Songs for a Tailor,” which he recorded after the breakup. He briefly toured with the guitarist Larry Coryell and the drummer and former Hendrix sideman Mitch Mitchell, and then joined the drummer Tony Williams’s pioneering jazz-rock band, Lifetime, alongside the guitarist John McLaughlin and the organist Larry Young.


Mr. Bruce later led several groups of his own and co-led bands with the guitarist Robin Trower and with the guitarist Leslie West and the drummer Corky Laing. He was also an occasional member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

Among the albums on which Mr. Bruce played were the experimental Carla Bley-Paul Haines jazz-rock opera “Escalator Over the Hill” (on which he also sang), Lou Reed’s “Berlin” and Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe,” whose title track was a Zappa-Bruce co-composition. He recorded more than a dozen albums as a leader; the most recent, “Silver Rails,” was released this year.

John Symon Asher Bruce was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 14, 1943. He studied cello and composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music.

“Growing up, I had envisioned being some kind of a Mozart,” he once said. “I studied classical music early on, and composed a string quartet at age 11.”

But he became disenchanted with the formal study of music and left the academy after a few months. He moved first to Italy and then to England, where he joined the band Blues Incorporated in 1962. The next year he joined the organist Graham Bond’s band, the Graham Bond Organisation, whose members also included Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Baker. He later had brief stints in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers — where he first worked with Mr. Clapton — and the pop group Manfred Mann.

Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2006. In 2005, the band reunited for concerts in London and New York.

Mr. Bruce’s survivors include his wife, Margrit, as well as four children and a granddaughter.

50 Things You Never Knew About The Clash

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1.  37 years ago today, on April 8 1977, The Clash released their self-titled debut album, later going on to change the face of British guitar music forever. Here’s 50 geeky facts about the Londoners, starting with this little-known nugget of information – their first ever concert was in summer 1976, supporting The Sex Pistols.


2. Most of the debut LP The Clash was written on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London’s Harrow Rd. The flat was owned by Mick’s grandmother, who regularly turned up at Clash gigs.


3.  During the filming for the ‘Bankrobber’ video, Clash roadies Baker and Johnny Green faked a bank job in South London. They were stopped and questioned by the police, who thought they were the real thing.


4. ‘Train In Vain’ isn’t listed on the sleeve credits for ‘London Calling’ because it was originally going to be a flexi give-away with NME. Unfortunately, the idea proved too expensive and the track went on the LP instead.


5. ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ was written by Mick about American singer Ellen Foley, who sang the backing vocals on Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell LP.


6. Joe Strummer once directed his own movie Cops & Robbers, staring Mick, Paul, and Clash photographer Pennie Smith.


7. The cover of the ‘London Calling’ album is a rip-off of Elvis’ ‘Rock And Roll’ LP from ’56 and was taken by our own Pennie Smith.


8.  ‘Rock The Casbah’ was the very first rock video that starred an armadillo, zoo fans.


9. The spread-’em-against-the-wall pose on the cover of ‘White Riot’ was borrowed from a dub LP called ‘State Of Emergency’ by Joe Gibbs And The Professionals


10.  They also sold their double and triple album sets ‘London Calling’ and ‘Sandinista!’ for around the price of a single album (£5.99). This meant that they had to forfeit all of their performance royalties on its first 200, 000 sales. They were constantly in debt to CBS and only started to break even around 1982.


11. The Clash II went on a busking tour to promote the “Cut The Crap” LP. They weren’t any good.


12.Mick Jones’ band ‘London SS’ was originally a hard rock group which was revamped and evolved to become ‘The Clash’.


13. Whilst at public school, the young Joe Strummer was an avid stamp collector.


14. In 1977 when The Clash were signed to CBS some people believed they had ‘sold out’ to the establishment, particularly Mark Perry, founder of the leading London punk periodical, Sniffin’ Glue. He said: “Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS.”


15. Sandy Pearlman, producer of “Give ‘Em Enough Rope”, so disliked Joe Strummer’s voice that he mixed it more quietly than the drums throughout the album.


16.  Joe Strummer once said his favourite record was Van Morrison’s “Gloria’.


17. Drummer Nicky Headon was nicknamed ‘Topper’ by Simonon, because he thought he resembled the Topper comic book character ‘Mickey the Monkey’.


18. The Spanish lines in ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ and ‘Spanish Bombs’ are not grammatically correct.


19. Joe Strummer played a bearded dishwasher in the mercenary army who gets thrown into a river in Alex Cox’s Walker. No-one has ever seen said film.


20.The Clash temporarily became The Lash when they became studio players for vice queen Janie Jones. They appear on her single, “House of the Ju Ju Queen”.


21.  Joe has run both the London and Paris marathons. Slowly.


22. British Telecom wanted to use ‘London Calling’ for an advertising campaign. They were told to bog off.


23. The Clash were the first (and last?) white band to have their likeness painted onto the wall of Lee Perry’s famous Black Ark recording studios in Jamaica.

















Watch: The xx share behind-the-scenes video for Park Avenue Armory residency



The British pop band the xx play on themes of exposure and intimacy in the immensity of the Park Avenue Armory drill hall, inverting almost all of what is expected in rock.
For the last week or so, The xx have staged a series of intimate performances at Park Avenue Armory in New York City. Taking place in a custom-built stage within a cube, each show is limited to an audience of 45 and tickets to the sold-out performances are currently fetching thousands from third-party resellers. For the vast majority of us who won’t be able to catch the concerts in person, the band has shared a behind-the-scenes video. Watch it at The New York Times’ website
Following the residency, The xx will embark on a brief U.S. tour.

Listen to Led Zeppelin’s unreleased demo tapes for Physical Graffiti

Led Zeppelin with jet

Led Zeppelin with jet

Next month, a rare batch of previously unreleased Led Zeppelin recordings will hit the auction block. The tracks were originally recorded during the sessions for 1975′s double album, Physical Graffiti.

Included in the collection are alternate mixes of “Trampled Underfoot”, “Driving to Kashmir”, “Custard Pie”, “In The Light (Everyone Makes It Then)”, “Swan Song Part 1″, and “Swan Song Part 2″. According to the company behind the auction, RR Auction, many of these takes are structurally different — some even completely instrumental – from those on the album’s final version.

As Rolling Stone notes, the tracks were recorded at Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio, one of the first ever mobile studios, built by audio engineer Ron Nevison. They’re among the larger Ron Nevison Collection, which is also auctioning songs from Eric Clapton’s Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert LP and early mixes of Bad Company’s eponymous debut.

Below, listen to a short sampler of the unreleased Led Zeppelin recordings and a 30-second clip of “In The Light”.

The RR Auction, dubbed Marvels of Modern Music, runs from March 13th through March 20th. Head here for more information.

Watch: The Beatles’ last show ever on its 45th anniversary


Forty-five years ago, yesterday, The Beatles played their final show ever.

Back before elaborate album rollouts like worldwide projections or mysterious graffiti, the Liverpool quartet spontaneously previewed songs from their forthcoming album Let It Be to scores of Londoners, staging an impromptu 42-minute set on the rooftop of Apple, their label, on Savile Row.

Before Metropolitan police eventually halted the performance, filmmakers captured not only the memorable set, but also the reactions of its attendees and those in the nearby area. While the January 30th, 1969 event luckily made its way onto the Let It Be documentary, the unannounced rooftop concert ultimately signaled the last time people would see the Beatles perform together live.

Getting The Beatles to play any kind of a show during that time was surprising, considering they officially stopped touring in 1966. This was partially due to the legions of loyal fans drowning out their concerts, as well the obstacle of not being able to perform some of their new material’s more complicated arrangements live. Despite their fatigue with playing traditional gigs, the band wanted to continue premiering and recording new music.

George Harrison explained, “We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there.”

Once the band kicked things off with the rousing “Get Back”, word began to spread through the London streets. Dozens, if not hundreds congregated, crowding neighboring rooftops and balconies as well as stopping traffic and disrupting local businesses. Before the Metropolitan Police could shut down the scene, the band, along with the young keyboardist Billy Preston, got through nine takes of five songs. With George Martin, engineer Glyn Johns and tape operator Alan Parsons recording the takes onto two eight-track tapes in Apple’s basement, these early renditions of ”I’ve Got a Feeling”,”One After 909″, and “Dig a Pony” would end up on the final version of Let It Be.

Though it would be their last show ever, the band sounded as good as it always had. The aforementioned recordings were all rollicking, and despite the cold January day, everyone seemed to be in good spirits. Just as they were about to end their performance, McCartney improvised the lyrics of “Get Back” to poke fun at the situation singing, “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your Momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested!” The set ended with John Lennon’s famous line, ”I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” The quote was a fitting send-off to one of music’s most important bands. The group would officially break up in 1970.

Revisit the memorable show below.

Video Setlist:
01. Get Back
02. Don’t Let Me Down
03. I’ve Got A Feeling
04. One After 909
05. Dig A Pony
06. Get Back

Full Setlist:
“Get Back” (three takes)
“Don’t Let Me Down” (two takes)
“I’ve Got a Feeling” (two takes)
“One After 909″ (one take)
“Dig a Pony” (one take)
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy” (Snippet)
“God Save The Queen” (Snippet)
“A Pretty Girl Is A Melody” (Snippet)

The Libertines – Can’t Stand Me Now

The Libertines

The Libertines

The Libertines were a British rock band, formed in London in 1997 by frontmen Carl Barât (vocals/guitar) and Pete Doherty (vocals/guitar). The band, centred on the songwriting partnership of Barat and Doherty, also included John Hassall (bass) and Gary Powell (drums) for most of its recording career. The band was part of the garage rock revival and spearheaded the movement in the UK.

The band gained some notoriety in the early 2000s.  Although their mainstream success was initially limited, their profile soon grew, culminating in a No. 2 single and No. 1 album on the UK Charts. In December 2004, their self-titled second album was voted the second best album of the year by NME magazine. Both of their full-length LPs were produced by Mick Jones, of the British punk band The Clash.

In spite of their critical success as well as decent commercial success, the band’s music was often eclipsed by its internal conflicts, stemming from Doherty’s addictions to crack cocaine and heroin, which eventually led to the breakup of the band. Doherty has since stated that the breakup of the band was due to relationship difficulties between Barât and himself that were not related to his drug addictions.  The members of The Libertines went on to form new bands with varying degrees of commercial and critical success.

In August 2010, the four members of The Libertines reunited to play a series of shows, including slots at the 2010 Reading and Leeds Festivals. The reunion shows received a highly positive response from the press and fans.

Listen to the album – The Libertines

The Libertines
The Libertines at HMV Forum (11).jpg
Background information
Origin London, England, United Kingdom
Genres Indie rock, garage rock revival Post-punk revival
Years active 1997–2004, 2010
Labels Rough Trade
Associated acts Babyshambles, Dirty Pretty Things, Yeti, The Chavs, Razorlight
Past members Carl Barât
Pete Doherty
John Hassall
Gary Powell
Steve Bedlow
Johnny Borrell
Paul Dufour

Brian Jones – ‘A Story of Our Time’ BBC 1971

Uploaded on Oct 31, 2011

“A Story Of Our Time – Brian Jones The Rolling Stone” by Michael Wale.
BBC, 2nd March 1971:
– interview with Michael Aldred
– interview with Lewis Jones (BJ’s father)
– interview with Alexis Korner
– interview with Cliff Richard
– interview with Les Perrin
– interview with Mick Jagger

In August 2009 Mail Online announced “Police review Rolling Stone Brian Jones death after MoS reveals new evidence.” Here’s the report published by Mail Online on August 29, 2009.

Police are reviewing the death of Rolling Stone Brian Jones – 40 years after his body was found at the bottom of a swimming pool.

The dramatic move by Sussex Police follows new evidence unearthed by The Mail on Sunday about the mysterious death of the rock legend which suggests he was murdered by his minder.

Officially, Jones drowned, aged 27, in his pool at Cotchford Farm, Hartfield, East Sussex, on July 2, 1969, while under the influence of drink and drugs.

An inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, even though the post-mortem report said there were no illegal drugs in the star’s body, just the equivalent of three-and-a-half pints of beer.

But now, a review officer based at Sussex Police CID headquarters has been assigned to trawl through 600 documents handed over by investigative journalist Scott Jones, who undertook a four-year probe into the guitarist’s death.

The new evidence was compiled by Mr Jones – no relation to the dead Stone – and disclosed by this newspaper last November.

The move follows a three-and-a-half-hour meeting Mr Jones had with senior Sussex police officers last month when they discussed testimony from witnesses at the house on the night Jones died.

Detectives are studying previously unseen files released by the Public Records Office and may launch a new investigation if they believe there is enough new evidence.

This marks a U-turn by Sussex Police, who until now have rejected requests to reopen the case.

Scott Jones said last night: ‘There is no time limit on the review. But after 40 years of mystery, anyone who values Brian’s reputation will be happy to wait for the outcome.’

Last November, we revealed fresh evidence from nurse Janet Lawson, who found Jones’s body. She said she saw his minder, Frank Thorogood, jump into the pool and ‘do something to Brian’. She was convinced he had killed Jones.

Thorogood died in 1994. Her claims are supported by PC Albert Evans, the first officer on the scene, who spoke to all the witnesses in the hours after Jones’s death and concluded he had died as a result of a fight with Thorogood.

New evidence also emerged about the original investigation by Detective Chief Inspector Bob Marshall, which shows that three unidentified witnesses were allowed to leave the scene without being interviewed.

Finally, police files have revealed how taxi driver Joan Fitzsimons, a former girlfriend of Thorogood, was attacked and left for dead three weeks after Brian Jones died. According to the official records, Ms Fitzsimons was planning to speak to the media about Jones’s death.

Thorogood was said to have been desperately searching for Ms Fitzsimons in the weeks before the attack because, the files reveal, she knew too much about the band. She died in 2002.