In the brilliantly candid series of black-and-white images taken by photojournalist Don Paulson during the Disraeli Gears recording sessions, Jack’s O&W Chronographe Suisse is ever-present.
One of the greatest bass guitarists of all time could just as easily have been a great classical musician and composer, were it not for the antiquated attitudes and snobbery of the late 1950s.
The son of a staunch trade unionist, bought up in post-war, working-class Glasgow, perhaps Jack Bruce was never destined to be a classical virtuoso. Despite winning a scholarship to study cello, piano and musical composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he never really fitted in. He felt more comfortable alongside the free-flowing jazz musicians performing in Glasgow’s underground nightclubs. Classical music’s loss would undoubtedly prove to be rock ’n’ roll’s gain, for after playing with several jazz and blues outfits, Jack Bruce – alongside drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton – formed the first ever supergroup, The Cream (soon after shortened to simply ‘Cream’).
People are always surprised to learn that, despite Cream’s prolific output and global fame, the band only existed for a little more than two years. Creative tensions between the three founders were present from the start and, aware that the project was unlikely to be sustainable, they resolved to achieve as much as possible as quickly as possible. They wasted not a single minute. From their first rehearsal in the summer of 1966 to their final gig on 4th November 1968, they recorded four albums, selling 15 million copies worldwide (including the world’s first platinum-selling double album). They managed to squeeze in more than 400 official concerts, many of which included more that one Cream set, so studio time was limited. Disraeli Gears, widely regarded as Cream’s best album, took just five days to record at Atlantic Studios in New York, several of the tracks being first or second takes.