Jack Bruce (1943— 2014) was a Scottish-born bassist, vocalist, and composer who played in a series of popular English bands during the 1960s, followed by a successful solo career over the following half-century. He first emerged in 1965 with a two-album stint in the Graham Bond Organization, followed with brief time in Manfred Mann and a three-album run in the super-trio Cream, which also made stars out of guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker.
As a solo artist, Bruce released three albums on Polydor between 1969 and 1971, followed by a two-album team-up with Mountain alumni in the super-trio West, Bruce & Laing. Between 1974 and 1977, Bruce released two albums on RSO, followed by more than 15 titles at sporadic intervals over the subsequent 37-year period, including back-to-back albums for Epic in partnership with guitarist Robin Trower in the early 1980s. During the life of Cream and through much of his solo career, the lyrics to Bruce’s songs were mostly penned by Battered Ornaments/Piblokto!-frontman Pete Brown.
Jack Bruce was born John Symon Asher Bruce on May 14, 1943, to a musical family in Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He first played standup bass and won a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he studied cello and music composition.
At the start of his career, Bruce gigged with a sequence of jazz acts (Jim McHarg’s Scotsville Jazzband, Murray Campbell Big Band). In 1962, he joined Blues Incorporated, a revolving-door ensemble of young R&B/rock musicians led by elder bluesman Alexis Korner. Other players that coincided with Bruce’s stint included saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith, organist Graham Bond, and drummer Ginger Baker.
In 1963, Bruce followed Bond and Baker into the R&B/post-bop Graham Bond Quartet with guitarist John McLaughlin. Within months, Bruce switched to electric bass, McLaughlin cleared way for Heckstall-Smith, and the band became the Graham Bond Organization. They signed to Columbia and released two albums in 1965. Due to an ongoing feud with Baker, Bruce left GBO for a brief stint in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he first played with guitarist Eric Clapton.
In early 1966, Bruce joined Manfred Mann and played on their single “Pretty Flamingo” (UK #1) and on the four-song EP Instrumental Asylum. Concurrently, he re-linked with Clapton in the ad hoc super-group Powerhouse, which also featured Spencer Davis Group organist Steve Winwood and departing Manfred Mann vocalist Paul Jones. They recorded four songs, three of which appear on the 1966 Elektra Records sampler album What’s Shakin’.
That July, Clapton invited the now-mended Bruce and Baker into a new power trio dubbed The Cream, due to the player’s stature as “cream of the crop” on their respective instruments. They shortened their name to Cream and released three albums to international fanfare between 1966 and 1968. Bruce functioned as their primary vocalist and co-wrote his contributions to the band with lyricist Pete Brown.
Songs for a Tailor
Jack Bruce released his debut solo album, Songs for a Tailor, on August 29, 1969, on Polydor. On October 6, Songs for a Tailor appeared in the US on Atco.
Things We Like
Jack Bruce released his second solo album, Things We Like, in 1970 on Polydor. This was his first-conceived solo project, recorded prior to Songs for a Tailor in August 1968 when he was still a member of Cream.
Jack Bruce released his third solo album, Harmony Row, in July 1971 on Polydor and Atco.
Out of the Storm
Jack Bruce released his fourth solo album, Out of the Storm, in November 1974 on RSO.
Jet Set Jewel
In 1978, Jack Bruce recorded material for his intended sixth solo album, Jet Set Jewel.
I’ve Always Wanted to Do This
Jack Bruce released I’ve Always Wanted to Do This in December 1980 on Epic. This was his sixth-released but seventh-recorded solo album.
- Songs for a Tailor (1969)
- Things We Like (1970)
- Harmony Row (1971)
- Out of the Storm (1974)
- How’s Tricks (1977 • The Jack Bruce Band)
- I’ve Always Wanted to Do This (1980)
- B.L.T. (1981 • Jack Bruce, Bill Lordan & Robin Trower)
- Truce (1981 • Jack Bruce & Robin Trower)
- Automatic (1983)
- Inazuma Super Session Absolutely Live with Anton Fier & Kenji Suzuki (1987)
- Theme (1988 • Leslie West)
- A Question of Time (1989)
- Somethin’ Els (1993)
- This That (1994 • Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce & John Stevens)
- Monkjack (1995)
- Shadows in the Air (2001)
- The Works for Piano 5: Four Walls; Soliloquy; 3 Easy Pieces (2003 • John Cage • Haydée Schvartz / Jack Bruce)
- Jet Set Jewel (2003, recorded 1978)
- More Jack Than God (2003)
- Seven Moons (2008 • Jack Bruce & Robin Trower)
- Silver Rails (2014)
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