LONDON - Items from the estate of legendary Cream bassist, Jack Bruce, who died in October last year will be offered in the Rock & Pop sale on 29 September. We spoke to his wife, Margrit Bruce about his long and varied life and career.
How did you meet Jack?
We met in 1979 in Stuttgart. He was on tour with John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham and Stu Goldberg. I had wanted to go see them play, but it hadn’t worked out, and we met by chance in a club later that night. I only found out who he was afterwards. We met up again a few times and then in 1980 he moved to Germany. He had no income at that time, because the management of Cream had kept all royalties, so we lived with my parents. I felt like I had just picked up this amazing artist, with a broken soul.
Who were his influences?
His mother recognised his talents, and he grew up listening to classical music, and learned cello at school. He started to play the double bass when he was 16 and by the age of 18 he was already a genius on the instrument. The first record he bought was The Golden Striker by the Modern Jazz Quartet. He was interested in improvisation and composition, and listened to jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk.
What has his lasting influence been?
Jack was always ahead of his time. If you think about it, that’s why his music has become more popular with time. When he died, we had a few memorable phone calls. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers said that he was one of a kind, and that it was the end of an era. And Joe Bonamassa told me, “The great Jack Bruce is one of the reasons I play music.” To a lot of people he was great writer, perfomer and musician, not simply a great bass player.
How were Cream founded?
It all started in 1966, when Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker discussed forming a band together. At this time Eric and Jack were already friends. They would watch each other perform at various clubs, and had played together here and there. Eric agreed to form a band with Ginger if Jack could be in the band too. Ginger didn’t really like the idea, because he had already played with Jack and they had a history of problems with each other. But one way or another they made it work. When Cream reformed in 2005 Jack was already very ill, but it became a goal for him to be strong for the reunion and when it happened he was as good as ever. It was just amazing, like a miracle.
Jack Bruce is also known for his collaborative work with other musicians. Whose company did he most enjoy?
He was very proud to co-write and play bass on Frank Zappa’s most famous album Apostrophe. Tony Williams was Jack’s favourite drummer and he liked performing with John McLaughlin and Larry Young, and there was a period of time when he played and rehearsed with Bob Dylan, which moved him greatly. Gary Moore was a great friend and he loved playing with him, then they formed BBM with Ginger Baker. He also made music with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. He did three lovely albums with Robin Trower and later enjoyed playing with "Spectrum Road" with Vernon Reid, John Medeski and Cindy Blackman Santana."
Margrit Bruce introduces highlights from the Jack Bruce Collection: LAUNCH SLIDESHOW