Jack Bruce: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Jack Bruce

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jack Bruce

Bruce performing on 28 October, Frankfurt, Germany 2006
Background information
Birth name John Symon Asher Bruce
Born 14 May 1943 (1943-05-14) (age 66)
Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Genres Blues-rock, psychedelic rock, jazz fusion, hard rock, acid rock
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, bass, double bass, piano, harmonica, guitar, keyboards, cello
Years active 1962 – present
Labels EMI, RSO Records
Associated acts Cream, Buddy Guy, The Tony Williams Lifetime, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, The Graham Bond Organization, BBM, BLT, Blues Incorporated, Manfred Mann, West, Bruce and Laing, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Cozy Powell, Frank Zappa, Kip Hanrahan
Notable instruments
Gibson EB-3
Gibson EB-1
Warwick Thumb Signature
Warwick EB-3

John Symon Asher "Jack" Bruce (born 14 May 1943) is a Scottish musician, composer and singer. He is best-known as a bass guitarist, harmonica player and pianist, and was most famous as vocalist and the bass guitarist for the 1960s rock band Cream. He lives in Suffolk, England[1].

The London Sunday Times stated "... many consider him to be one of the greatest bass players of all time."[citation needed]



Jack Bruce was born on May 14, 1943 in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, to musical parents who moved around a lot, resulting in the young Bruce attending 14 different schools, ending up at Bellahouston Academy. Bruce took up jazz bass in his teens, and won a scholarship studying cello and composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, while playing in a dance band to support himself. The Academy disapproved of its students playing jazz, however. "They found out," Bruce told Musician correspondent Jim Macnie, "and said 'you either stop, or leave college.' So I left college."

1960s before Cream

After leaving he toured Italy playing double bass with the Murray Campbell Big Band.[2] In 1962, Jack Bruce became a member of the London-based band Blues Incorporated,[3] led by Alexis Korner, in which he played the double bass. The band also included organist Graham Bond, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith and drummer Ginger Baker. In 1963, the group broke up and Bruce went on to form the Graham Bond Quartet with Bond, Baker, and guitarist John McLaughlin.They played an eclectic range of music genres, including, bebop, blues and rhythm and blues. As a result of session work at this time, Bruce switched from double bass to electric bass. The move to electric bass happened as McLaughlin was dropped from the band; he was replaced by Heckstall-Smith on sax and the band pursued a more concise R&B sound and changed its name to the Graham Bond Organisation. They released two studio albums and several singles, but were not commercially successful. They did, however, influence a number of other musicians, such as Keith Emerson, Jon Lord and Bill Bruford.

During the time Bruce and Baker played with the Graham Bond Organisation, they were known for their hostility towards each other. There were numerous stories of the two sabotaging each other's equipment and fighting on stage. Hostility grew so much between the two that Bruce was forced to leave the group in August 1965.[4]

After he left, Bruce recorded a solo single, "I'm Gettin Tired", for Polydor Records. Although this single was unsuccessful, it is considered a collectible. He soon joined John Mayall and his John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers group, which featured guitarist Eric Clapton. Although his stay was brief, it did sow the seeds, especially in the improvised live performances, of his future musical direction. The Universal Deluxe 2CD set Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton contains all the known tracks featuring Jack Bruce.

After the Bluesbreakers, Bruce tasted his first commercial success as a member of Manfred Mann in 1966, including a No.1 single, "Pretty Flamingo". When interviewed on the episode of the VH1 show, Classic Albums, which featured Disraeli Gears, Mayall stated that Bruce had been lured away by the lucrative commercial success of Manfred Mann; Mann mused about having had someone of such talent playing bass for the group, and reminisced that Bruce would attend the recording sessions without having rehearsed but would play the songs straight through without error, opining that perhaps the chord changes seemed so obvious to Bruce.[5] The complete Manfred Mann recordings with Jack Bruce are available on the 4-CD EMI box set Down the Road Apiece.

Whilst with Manfred Mann, Bruce again collaborated with Eric Clapton for 3 tracks on the Elektra sampler album What's Shakin'. Two of the songs, "Crossroads" and "Steppin' Out", were to become staples in the live set of his next band.


In July 1966 Bruce moved on to his most famous role as bass player, main songwriter and lead vocalist with Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton in the power trio Cream, considered the first supergroup.

While with Cream, Bruce played a Gibson EB-3 electric bass and became the most famous bassist in rock, winning musicians polls and influencing the next generation of bassists such as Sting, Geddy Lee and Jeff Berlin.[6] He also wrote most of Cream's original material, with lyricist Pete Brown, including the hits, "Sunshine of Your Love", "White Room", and "I Feel Free".

By 1968, Cream were hugely successful; they grossed more than the next top six live acts of the day added together (including Jimi Hendrix and The Doors). They topped album charts all over the world, and received the first platinum discs for record sales, but the old enmity of Bruce and Baker resurfaced in 1968, and after a final tour, Cream broke up.

The solo years 1970s

Collaborative efforts with musicians, in many genres - heavy rock, jazz, blues, fusion, avant-garde, world music, and R&B - has been a continuing theme of Bruce's career. Alongside these he has produced a long line of solo albums. In contrast to his collaborative works the solo albums usually maintain a common theme: melodic songs with a complex musical structure and lyrics by Pete Brown, based around a core band. This structure is loosened on his live solo albums and DVDs, where extended improvisations similar to those employed by Cream in live performance are sometimes still used.

In August 1968, before Cream split, Bruce recorded an acoustic free jazz album with John McLaughlin, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Jon Hiseman. This was issued in 1970 as Bruce's second solo album, Things We Like. The album was a precursor to the jazz fusion boom in the early 1970s, and more recently has been sampled by many hip hop artists.

Bruce's first solo release, Songs for a Tailor, was issued in September 1969, and also featured Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman. It was a worldwide hit, but, after a brief supporting tour backed by Larry Coryell and Mitch Mitchell, Bruce joined the jazz fusion group Lifetime. With drummer Tony Williams, guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young, the group recorded two albums; Bruce joined on the second album, Turn It Over. However, Lifetime did not receive much critical or commercial acclaim at the time, and the band broke up in 1971. Bruce then recorded his third solo album Harmony Row, but this was not as commercially successful as Songs for a Tailor.

In 1972, Bruce formed a blues rock power trio, West, Bruce and Laing. Besides Bruce, the group included singer/guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing, both formerly of the Cream-influenced American band Mountain. West, Bruce and Laing produced two studio albums, Why Dontcha and Whatever Turns You On, and one live album, Live 'n' Kickin'. The band broke up shortly before Live 'n' Kickin's release in early 1974, and Bruce released his fourth solo album Out of the Storm later that year.

A 1975 tour was lined up to support the Out of the Storm album with a band featuring former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor and jazz keyboard player Carla Bley, with whom he had collaborated in 1971 on Escalator over the Hill. The tour was documented on Live '75 (at the Manchester Free Trade Hall)[7], but it ended with Taylor's departure, and no studio album was completed.

In 1977, Bruce formed a new band with drummer Simon Phillips and keyboardist Tony Hymas. The group recorded an album, called How's Tricks. A world tour followed, but the album was a commercial failure. The follow-up album Jet Set Jewel was put on hold when Bruce was dropped by his record label, RSO. In 1979, Bruce toured with members from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, reuniting him with John McLaughlin, and introducing him to drummer Billy Cobham. A 3-CD collection of his 1970s BBC recordings called Spirit was released in 2008.

The solo years 1980s

By 1979, Bruce's drug habit had reached such a level that he had lost a lot of his money; in that year he married his second wife, Margrit Seyffer. She began to organise the business aspects of his career, and Bruce contributed as a session musician to recordings by Cozy Powell, Gary Moore and Jon Anderson to raise money. By 1980 his career was back on track with his new band, consisting of drummer Billy Cobham, guitarist Clem Clempson, and keyboardist David Sancious. After releasing an album, I've Always Wanted to Do This at the end of 1980, they undertook a long tour to support the record, but it was not a commercial success and they disbanded. In the early 1980s, he also joined up to play with friends from the Alexis Korner days in Rocket 88, the back-to-the-roots band that Ian Stewart had arranged, and Bruce appears on the album of the same name, recorded live in Germany in 1980. They also recorded a "live in the studio" album called Blues & Boogie Explosion for the German audiophile record label, Jeton.

In 1981, Bruce collaborated with guitarist Robin Trower and released two power trio albums, BLT and Truce, the first of which was a minor hit in the United States. By 1983 Bruce was out of contract with the major record companies, and he released his next solo album Automatic only on a minor German label, Intercord INT 145.069. A European tour followed to promote the album enlisting Bruce Gary from The Knack (who had also played in Jack Bruce's 1975 band) on drums and Sancious from his 1980 release on guitar and keyboards.

In 1983 Bruce began working with the Latin/world music producer Kip Hanrahan, and released the collaborative albums Desire Develops an Edge, Vertical's Currency, A Few short Notes from the End Run, Exotica and All Roads are made of the Flesh. They were all critically successful, and in 2001 he went onto form his own band using Hanrahan's famous Cuban rhythm section. Other than his partnership with lyricist Pete Brown, the musical relationship with Hanrahan has been the most consistent and long-lasting of his career.

In 1986 he re-recorded his famous Cream song "I Feel Free" and released it as a single to support an advertising campaign for the Renault 21 motor car.

A solo album, Somethin Els, recorded in Germany between 1986 and 1992, saw him reunited with Eric Clapton and received, belated, but widespread critical acclaim.

His German TV concerts of this 1980s period have been collected on a two-DVD set, Live at RockPalast.

The solo years 1990s

In 1989, Bruce began recording material with Ginger Baker and released another solo album, A Question of Time. Baker and Bruce toured the United States at turn of the decade. Bruce played at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1991, and invited Irish blues rock performer, Rory Gallagher (who had a long-standing relationship with Bruce, having supported Cream's farewell concert, in the band, Taste in 1968) to perform a song with Bruce onstage. In 1993 Baker appeared, along with a host of former Bruce band colleagues, at a special concert in Cologne to celebrate Bruce's 50th birthday. A special guest was another Irish blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore. The concert recordings with Moore were released as the live double album Cities of the Heart. On the back of this successful gig Bruce, Baker and Moore formed the power trio BBM, and their subsequent (and only) album Around the Next Dream was a top ten hit in the UK. However, the old Bruce/Baker arguments arose again and the subsequent tour was cut short and the band broke up. A low-key solo album, Monkjack, followed in 1995, featuring Bruce on piano and vocals accompanied by Funkadelic organist Bernie Worrell.

Bruce then began work producing and arranging the soundtrack to the independently produced Scottish film The Slab Boys with Lulu, Edwyn Collins, Eddi Reader and The Proclaimers. The soundtrack album appeared in 1997. In 1998 he returned to touring as a member of Ringo Starr's All Starr Band which also featured Peter Frampton on guitar. At the gig in Denver, Colorado the band was joined on stage by Ginger Baker, and Bruce, Baker and Frampton played a short set of Cream classics.

The solo years 2000s

Bruce playing a fretless Warwick Thumb bass at the Jazzfestival Frankfurt, Germany 28 October, 2006 Courtesy: Christian Sahm

In 2001 Bruce reappeared with his most successful band of recent times featuring Bernie Worrell, Vernon Reid of Living Colour on guitar and Kip Hanrahan's three-piece Latin rhythm section. Hanrahan also produced the accompanying album Shadows in the Air, which included a reunion with Eric Clapton on a new version of "Sunshine of Your Love". The band released another Hanrahan produced studio album, More Jack than God, in 2003, and a live DVD, Live at Canterbury Fayre.

Bruce had suffered a period of declining health, and in the summer of 2003 was diagnosed with liver cancer. In September 2003, he underwent a liver transplant, which was almost fatal, as his body initially rejected the new organ.[8] He has since recovered, and in 2004 reappeared to perform "Sunshine of Your Love" at a Rock Legends concert in Germany organised by the singer Mandoki.

In May, 2005, he reunited with former Cream bandmates Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker for a series of well-received concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall,[9] released as the album Royal Albert Hall London May 2–3–5–6 2005, and New York's Madison Square Garden.

In between the UK and U.S. Cream dates he also played live with Gary Moore and drummer Gary Husband at the Dick Heckstall-Smith tribute concert in London.

Subsequent concert appearances were sparse due to recovery after the transplant, but in 2006 Bruce returned to the live arena with a show of Cream and solo classics performed with the German HR (Hessischer Rundfunk) Big Band. This was released on CD in Germany in 2007 to critical acclaim. 2007 also saw him make a brief concert appearance in opening a new rehearsal hall named in his honour at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow with Clem Clempson, keyboard player Ronnie Leahy and Husband.

In 2008, Bruce collaborated again with guitarist Robin Trower on the album Seven Moons. It also featured Husband. Unusually the lyrics were not written by Pete Brown or Trower's regular lyricist Keith Reid, but by the band.

In May 2008 Bruce was 65 years old and to commemorate this milestone two box sets of recordings were released. Spirit is a 3CD collection of Bruce's BBC recordings from the 1970s. Can You Follow? is a 6CD 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.

Improved health led to Bruce playing a series of live outdoor concerts across the USA starting in July 2008 as part of the Hippiefest Tour. He was supported by members of the late Who bassist's The John Entwistle Band, and headlined at a tribute concert to the bassist.

In November 2008 he recorded a concert in Birmingham, England for Radio Broadcast with the BBC Big Band, where he again played the Big Band arrangements of his classic songs. In December he was reunited with Ginger Baker at the drummer's Lifetime Achievement Award concert in London. They played jazz classics with saxophonist Courtney Pine and for the first time in 40 years played the Graham Bond/Cream classic Traintime. The same month Jack, with guitarist Vernon Reid, played a series of Blue Note Club tribute concerts to The Tony Williams Lifetime in Japan. These shows were broadcast on television in Japan.

In spring 2009 a series of concerts were performed with Trower and Husband in Europe. Proposed dates in the USA in April were cancelled due to a further bout of ill health. Bruce recovered and the band played summer concerts in Italy, Norway and the UK during 2009. This promoted the release of the Seven Moons Live CD & DVD, recorded in February during the European leg of the tour in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

During the Scottish dates of the 2009 tour Bruce was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Glasgow Caledonian University for services to the culture of Glasgow and music in general.

August 2009 saw the release on compact disc of the 1983 Jack Bruce solo album, Automatic. This release means all of his solo albums from the 1969 debut Songs for a Tailor onwards are now officially available in the CD format for the first time. All of the discs upto and including How's Tricks have previously unreleased material added.

In October 2009 Bruce performed at the 50th Anniversary of Ronnie Scott 's Club with The Ronnie Scott's Blues Band. After garnering good reviews 3 further dates at the club have been added in March 2010.

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


The discographies of the individual bands and collaborations can be found in within their own profiles. Jack Bruce's solo albums are listed below

Solo album discography

Date Album
Sep 1969 Songs for a Tailor
Dec 1970 Things We Like
(recorded Aug 1968)
Sep 1971 Harmony Row
Nov 1974 Out of the Storm
1975 Live at Manchester Free Trade Hall '75
(2-CD released 2003)
Mar 1977 How's Tricks
1978 Spirit- Live at the BBC 1971-1978
(3-CD released 2008)
1978 Jet Set Jewel
(released 2003)
Dec 1980 I've Always Wanted To Do This
Jan 1983 Automatic
1987 Somethin Els
(released March 1993)
Dec 1989 A Question of Time
1993 Cities of the Heart
Sep 1995 Monkjack
Jul 2001 Shadows in the Air
Sep 2003 More Jack Than God
Dec 2007 Live with the HR Big Band
May 2008 The Anthology - Can You Follow?
Aug 2009 Seven Moons Live
(Jack Bruce & Robin Trower)

References and notes

  1. ^ http://www.revillos.co.uk/rhythm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58&Itemid=58
  2. ^ Chris Welch, Cream: The Legendary Sixties Supergroup
  3. ^ Good Scottish Pop - Jack Bruce
  4. ^ Harry Shapiro, Graham Bond: The Mighty Shadow, p. 85-6
  5. ^ "Cream: Disraeli Gears", Classic Albums on VH1, 3 November 2006
  6. ^ Cream Rises
  7. ^ Beppe Colli, The Jack Bruce Band: Live '75 at www.cloudsandclocks.net, June 10, 2003
  8. ^ Jack Bruce on the Mend: Jack Bruce: Rolling Stone
  9. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Clapton returns for Cream dates



  • Brigitte Tast, Hans-Jürgen Tast „be bop - Die Wilhelmshöhe rockt. Disco und Konzerte in der Hölle" Verlag Gebrüder Gerstenberg GmbH & Co. KG, Hildesheim, ISBN 978-3-8067-8589-0.

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address