Jack Bruce Passes Away at 71

Jack Bruce in Cream.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven Band just got a whole lot better as the legendary Jack Bruce leaves this earth and joins his many brothers in the great beyond. And no matter who’s playing bass in that band right now, they will gladly give the lead cord to Jack Bruce who many, including Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, thought “was probably the most musically gifted bass player who's ever been." Jack was born on 14 May 1943, in Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire,  Scotland and attended  14 different schools as his parents moved around a lot. He started playing the jazz bass while still a teen and studied cello and musical composition at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on a scholarship.  He gigged  with Jim McHarg's Scotsville Jazz Band to make a few pounds but The Academy disapproved of its students playing jazz. "They found out, and said 'you either stop, or leave college.' So I left college.”

In July 1966 Bruce, Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker founded Cream , the original power trio, and  they became superstars playing  a mixture of blues-rock and jazz influenced rock music. Jack Bruce was the lead singer on most of the tracks in the beginning. Bruce, with his Gibson EB-3 electric bass, became one of the most famous bassists in rock, winning musicians' polls and influencing the next generation of bassists such as Sting, Geddy Lee and Jeff Berlin to name just a few.  Bruce co-wrote most of Cream's single releases with lyricist Pete Brown including the hits, "Sunshine of Your Love", "White Room", and "I Feel Free". In 1968, Cream broke up.

In 1972, Bruce formed a blues rock power trio, West, Bruce & Laing Besides Bruce, the group included singer/guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing, both formerly of the Cream-influenced American band Mountain. Felix Pappalardi bass player for Mountain had produced Cream. West, Bruce & Laing produced two studio albums, Why Dontcha and Whatever Turns You On. Corky Laing was a childhood friend of mine in Montreal and had called me at around 11 PM one night, 5 AM in England ,to ask me a favour. He needed the lyrics to The Rolling Stones song “Play With Fire” and figured I knew them. I did and passed them on.  Later that year in New York Jack offered me a brand new Gibson EB 3 as a thank you for the giving them the lyrics. I declined saying I wasn’t playing bass anymore, but thank you. It must have been precognition because I got a call a few nights later saying Jack’s bass had broken before show time and how fortunate it was that he still had the one I didn’t take.

In May 2005, Jack reunited with former Cream bandmates Clapton and Baker for a series of well-received concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall released as the album Royal Albert Hall London May 2–3–5–6 2005 and New York's Madison Square Garden.

In May 2008 Bruce turned  65 years old and to commemorate this milestone two box sets of recordings were released. Spirit, a three-CD collection of Bruce's BBC recordings from the 1970s. Can You Follow? is a six-CD retrospective anthology released by the Esoteric label in the UK. This anthology is a wide ranging collection covering his music from 1963 to 2003 and aside from his work with Kip Hanrahan, is a comprehensive overview of his career.

Composing Himself: Jack Bruce The Authorized Biography by Harry Shapiro was released by Jawbone Press in February 2010. Shapiro has previously written biographies of Bruce collaborators Alexis Korner, Graham Bond and Eric Clapton.

Bruce released a new studio album Silver Rails in March 2014 on the Esoteric Antenna, his first solo studio album in over a decade. Silver Rails was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England.

The deluxe version of the album featured a behind the scenes documentary "The Making of Silver Rails" which was filmed on location at Abbey Road Studios and directed by Bruce's daughter Kyla Simone Bruce. Bruce's son Malcolm Bruce pre-produced the album and played guitar on several tracks and Bruce's daughter Aruba Red was featured on "Hidden Cities" singing backing vocals.

Jack Bruce passed awayat his home in Suffolk, England. He had suffered from liver disease. He had received a transplant several years ago.

Former bandmates Ginger Baker and Eric Claption released statements on their Facebook pages.   Baker, mourning "the loss of a fine man.""My thoughts & wishes are with his family at this difficult time."

And Clapton, on his Facebook page, said Bruce "was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me.”

Godspeed to one the greats in the world of rock and roll. Rest in peace Jack Bruce.