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Tributes pour in after Jack Bruce, known for his work with Eric Clapton in 1960s group Cream, dies at home in Suffolk

16:54 25 October 2014

Jack Bruce, the composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist, died today of liver disease at his home in Suffolk, aged 71.

Bassist Bruce was most famous for his work with guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker in legendary 1960s group Cream.

His family said: “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”

Bruce’s death was announced on his official website, and confirmed by his publicist Claire Singers.

She said: “He died today at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family.”

Cream sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were awarded the world’s first ever platinum disc for their LP Wheels of Fire.

Bruce wrote and sang most of the songs, including “I Feel Free”, “White Room”, “Politician” and perhaps the world’s most performed guitar riff, in “Sunshine Of Your Love”.

Cream split in November 1968 at the height of their popularity. Bruce felt that he had strayed too far from his ideals and wanted to re-discover his musical and social roots.

Many artists covered Bruce’s songs, from Jimi Hendrix, to David Bowie, to Ella Fitzgerald.

Bruce, born in Glasgow on May 14 1943, joined his first important band in 1962 in London. This was Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc. with whom Charlie Watts, later to join the Rolling Stones, was drummer.

Jack left Korner in 1963 to form a group with organist Graham Bond, guitarist John McLaughlin and drummer Ginger Baker. This group became the seminal Graham Bond Organisation after McLaughlin left, and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith joined. Jack was compelled to leave this band after three years by Baker, who said his playing was “too busy”.

Bruce joined John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, where he first met Clapton, followed by Manfred Mann in an ill-advised attempt at commercialism.

It was Baker who initially asked Bruce to form a trio with Clapton, who insisted that Bruce would be the singer.

After Cream broke up, Bruce began recording solo albums, the first being his influential Songs For A Tailor and thereafter began his policy of playing simultaneously in rock, jazz and classical formats.

He fronted many of his own bands and recorded numerous solo albums. He also worked as session man on carefully chosen dates with such stars as Lou Reed and Frank Zappa, with whom Jack co-wrote Apostrophe, which became Zappa’s biggest selling album.

In 2005, Bruce reunited with Clapton and Baker for Cream’s first concert tour in 37 years. In May the band played four historic nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which were recorded and subsequently released on both audio and video. In October the band played three concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Jack and his wife Margrit were hoping to retire to their beautiful estancia in Majorca.

Tributes have poured in from musicians across the globe, with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi leading them.

He said on Twitter: ““Very sad to hear of the passing of Jack Bruce, a major influence in music and an amazing bass player and singer. He was a hero to so many.”

Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler added: “So sad to hear of Jack Bruce passing. My biggest influence and favourite bass player. Thank you, Jack. RIP.”

Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, tweeted: “Sad to hear of the passing of Jack Bruce. May he rest in Peace.”

Sex Pistols guitar hero Steve Jones said: “Rest in peace Jack Bruce, OG (original gangster).”

The Coral frontman James Skelly tweeted: “Just read that Jack Bruce has died! Gutted Cream are a huge influence on me! Still ahead of their time even now.”

Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden told the BBC that Bruce had been “a true legend”.

“That word gets banded about sometimes but Jack Bruce was certainly in that kind of sphere,” he said.

“To me he was a hero who became a friend and I feel very fortunate for that.”

Marsden explained that Bruce had been classically trained and aside from his talents on the bass was a “fantastic” piano player with a great “feel” for music.

He said that without Cream “my generation of players I’m pretty sure wouldn’t have been in bands, let alone moderately successful”.

“He was just one of those people who made you want to get involved in music and it was a joy to play with him,” Marsden said.

“He played many, many times, for a long, long time with his own band. He always surrounded himself with great players but it was always the Jack Bruce show.”

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