Jack Bruce, composer, singer, bassist and multi-instrumentalist, was born to musical parents in the shipbuilding city of Glasgow, Scotland in May 14, 1943. His parents traveled extensively in Canada and the USA, Jack attended 14 different schools finishing his formal education at Bellahouston Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, to which he won a scholarship for cello and composition. He left the Academy and his homeland at the age of 17 because of poverty and discouraged by his professors' lack of interest in his ideas.
Jack traveled to Italy and then England, playing double-bass in dance bands and jazz groups, and 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 Alexis 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 John left, and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith joined. Jack was compelled to leave this band after three years by Ginger Baker, who said his playing was "too busy!" Because of his impending first marriage, Marvin Gaye's offer to join his U.S.-based band had to be turned down. But Jack then joined John Mayall's Blues Breakers, where he first met Eric Clapton, followed by Manfred Mann (in an ill-advised attempt at commercialism.) It was Ginger Baker who initially asked him to form a trio with Eric Clapton. Eric then insisted the Jack be the singer.
Cream went on to sell 35,000,000 albums and were awarded the first ever platinum disc for "Wheels of Fire." jack wrote and sang most of the songs including "I Fell Free," "White Room," "Politician," and perhaps the world's most performed guitar riff in "Sunshine Of Your Love." Cream split in 1969 at the height of their popularity. Jack felt that he had strayed too far from his ideals and wanted to re-discover his musical and social roots.
He began recording solo albums, the first being his influential Songs For A Tailor, and thereafter commenced his policy of playing simultaneously in rock, jazz, and classical formats, attempting to realize his personal and unique style of performance and recording which is an amalgam of these three plus the influence of other important world and ethnic music.
Around this time, during the American tour of the first of Jack's own bands (this one featuring guitarist Larry Coryell and Jimi Hendrix's drummer Mitch Mitchell,) Jack was introduced to Tony Williams by John McLaughlin. He soon joined Tony's Lifetime along with John and the late, great Larry Young, an experience he describes as, 'the most musical in my life." Frustrated by the break-up of Lifetime and greatly saddened by Hendrix's tragic death, Jack found solace in returning to his heavy roots with the formation of West Bruce and Laing with Leslie West and Corky Laing.
Since then, Jack has fronted many of his own bands(featuring amongst others, such side people as Carla Bley, Mick Taylor, Simon Phillips, Tony Hymas, Billy Cobham, David Sancious, and Gary Moore) and recorded numerous solo albums as well as collaborating on special projects with artists like Carla Bley (Escalator Over The Hill) and Kip Hanrahan (Desire Develops An Edge). He also worked as session man on carefully chosen dates with the likes of Lou Reed (Berlin) and Frank Zappa, with whom Jack co-wrote Apostrophe which became Frank's biggest selling album.
In 1991 he performed in Vienna in a new, specially commissioned work with Michael Mantler and Mike Gibbs, accompanied by the Niederosterreichischen Tonkunstler Symphony Orchestra. He also completed a successful tour of ten European capitals with his thirteen piece Latin/Jazz/Rock fusion orchestra.
More recently he has been increasing his knowledge of World musics, and two recent solo albums A Question of Time (Epic/Sony) and Somethin Else (CMP) state his musical position.
In 1992 at the Guitar Legends festival in Seville, Jack enjoyed himself playing with Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Steve Cropper, and many other friends.
1993 was a special year starting with Jack's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Cream and ending with an inspired fiftieth birthday concert which featured many of his old friends including Dick Heckstall-Smith, Maggie Reilly, and Gary Moore. This event which was recorded and released as a CD box set entitled Cities of the Heart (CMP) led to Jack forming BBM with Gary Moore and Ginger Baker and subsequently releasing the top-ten album Around the Next Dream (Virgin).
During 1995 Jack concentrated on his piano playing and recorded Monkjack, a CD of nine new songs and three oldies, featuring solo piano and duets on Hammond organ with premier funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell. This represented a new departure for Jack and he was delighted to be invited to present this new material at the Edinburgh Festival and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in September of 1995 when the record was released.
Jack is today continuing his tradition of moving between many different musics and collaborations. Jack has recently finished a children's musical based on the constellations entitled Little Stars which is being published by Warner Chppell Music and he is producing and composing the music for The Slab Boys, a feature film adapted by the Scottish writer/artist John Byrne from his acclaimed trilogy of plays. This will be released in the spring of '97. During August of '96, Jack performed in concerts in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany with Chaka Khan before traveling to Copenhagen to sing in Michael Mantler's new opera, The Language School.
Jack is also excited at the prospect of collaborating with Polygram's Bill Levenson on a definitive Jack Bruce Box Set, as well as the fist of these to have been released by Cream. Jack is also working on his own album Jungle Music.
This biography and photograph was provided by Elizabeth Freund of Brooklyn, public relations consultant and publicist for the 1997 tour of Ringo and the All-Starr Band. The text was written by Jack Bruce Music of Suffolk, England.
Return to The Ringo Starr Tour Menu.