The British band Cream were only active for a short while, but their blend of Blues, Rock and psychedelia became instantly popular and proved an influence on many Hard Rock and Blues Rock bands that followed them.
The three members of Cream were all veterans of various London bands when the power trio formed in mid-1966. As a member of the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton had become a highly regarded guitarist; bassist/singer Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker had both been in the Graham Bond Organisation, a band that combined R&B and Jazz. All three were looking to try something new, something more experimental.
Cream’s first album, Fresh Cream, was a mix of classic Blues and Blues-influenced originals presented with hard-hitting arrangements. The album was a success, but it was their sophomore effort, 1967’s Disraeli Gears, that brought wide scale popularity. Using Blues as a starting point, the band found their own sound, a fusion of Rock, Jazz and Pop influences married to psychedelic touches, like Clapton’s pioneering use of the wah-wah effects pedal. The music had Pop’s melodicism combined with the improvisational freedom of Jazz. The album yielded their first Top 10 hit, the riff-based "Sunshine of Your Love.”
Cream’s third release, 1968’s Wheels of Fire, was a double album featuring one LP of studio material and one of live recordings. Although some critics accused the band of self indulgence (the live disc contained two songs over 16 minutes in length) the album would become their biggest seller, reaching No. 1 in the U.S. and spawning the worldwide hit “White Room.”
It was at this moment that the members of Cream decided to break up. The reasons were many: Baker was fed up with the thundering volume of Bruce and Clapton’s amplifiers, there were internal struggles, and everyone was, once again, looking to try something new. Clapton especially was keen to move on to something more subtle and removed from the “guitar God” role he had found himself in. Cream made one more album, titled Goodbye.
Clapton joined Baker in the short-lived super group Blind Faith, then went on to a hugely successful solo career. Bruce and Baker kept busy with various Rock, Jazz and experimental music projects. In 2005 Baker, Bruce and Clapton reunited for a handful of Cream shows in London and New York.