Jack Bruce, the bassist and co-founder of influential rock trio Cream, has died. He was 71.
News of Bruce’s passing was confirmed by his family via his official website, though no cause of death was noted. In the statement, Bruce’s family wrote, “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all around legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”
As a child, Bruce attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, originally on a cello scholarship, but dropped out when the school wouldn’t allow him to play his beloved jazz. By 1962, he began his career as a bassist, first playing with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and then Manfred Mann in 1966. Bruce would also play in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, which is where he met Eric Clapton for the first time.
Hoping to embark on a more experimental path, Bruce and Clapton recruited drummer Ginger Baker, who was also a member of the Blues Incorporated, and formed Cream in late 1966. Cream operated as a tight-knit trio, writing and recording collaboratively, but Bruce was behind several of the band’s most iconic cuts, including “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine of Your Love”. Cream toured the world throughout their two-year career, helping to redefine the sounds of rock by infusing the improvisational energies of jazz and various elements of psych and blues. They called it quits having released four albums: 1966’s Fresh Cream, 1967’s Disraeli Gears, 1968’s Wheels of Fire, and 1969’s Goodbye.
In 1993, Cream were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and later won a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement award at the 2006 Grammys. Their sole on-stage reunion came in 2005 during a series of concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Following Cream’s disbandment, Bruce released his debut solo album, Songs For a Tailor, in 1969. He would go on to write a dozen or so solo albums between the early 1970s and his death, most recently Silver Rails, this past spring. He also continued to tour up until this year.
Below, check out a few highlight’s from Bruce’s storied career.