By Jim Hofman
Legendary bassist, vocalist, and multi instrumentalist Jack Bruce is the subject of a new autobiography, "Composing Himself". Best known for his founding role in the legendary power trio Cream, this book is a must read for anyone interested in music. Here's why ...
Jack Bruce: An Overview
Jack Bruce is probably best known for his integral role in the legendary power trio band Cream. And yet, his story doesn't start or stop with that influential group. By all accounts a brilliant musician, and by some accounts a musical genius, Jack Bruce was a child prodigy and an accomplished cello player by the time he reached his teens. He grew restless even in the most prestigious Scottish music schools and soon gravitated toward the budding jazz, rock, and blues scene of early 1960's Great Britain.
It was there he crossed paths with and ultimately teamed up with drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton to form Cream, a musical tour de force that still influences and resonates to this day. Although Cream's initial shelf life lasted less than three years, the world class musicianship of the three members spawned countless imitators and legions of admirers.
After the band's 1968 break up, Bruce went on to forge a colorful music career, careening from hard rock to blues to jazz and all points in between. He has stayed true to his musical vision, whether or not it meant commercial success, and this is why his story is a must read for all aspiring musicians and fans of great music.
The Autobiography: Composing Himself
The Jack Bruce autobiography, Composing Himself, is aptly written and narrated by Harry Shapiro, an accomplished author who has known his subject at arms length for decades. The forward is brilliantly written by Bruce's Cream band mate, Eric Clapton, who offers a glimpse of Bruce's talents from an insiders perspective.
Many other peers, friends, and family members provide an honest and often gut wrenching perspective of Bruce's life and career. Like many high profile musicians, he struggled with the bounty of success, turning to drugs as a crutch.
With his career basically in shambles a short ten years after Cream's break up, the book details his long journey back to physical and emotional health, and relevancy within the music business. His many musical partnerships are covered in fascinating detail, especially the aborted early 1970's super group, West, Bruce, and Laing. Thrown together by music industry executives hoping for a big pay day, the band imploded under the weight of its own expectations, nearly ruining the three members in the process.
For the most part, the narrative keeps Bruce's family life at arms length, other than to underscore their importance and positive influence in his life. Bruce, an extraordinarily private man, has never sought rock star adulation. As the book recounts, of more importance is his desire to pursue inner satisfaction via his music, commercially successful or not.
His recent reunion with Cream is detailed, both with poignant humor and wistful recollections. Long known for their combative relationship, the complicated interplay between Bruce and Ginger Baker is dealt with respectfully, but with the gloves off. In what Eric Clapton calls a sibling rivalry, Bruce and Baker have deep mutual respect but still do not see eye to eye, almost 50 years after they first played together.
One need not be a fan of Cream, or even Jack Bruce, to enjoy his autobiography, Composing Himself. It is an honest chronicle of a man who lives for his music, a man who almost deliberately shunned the path of commercial success to stay true to himself and his vision.
Further, the book is a soul baring study in relationships; what should have been done, and what should have been said. It is a story of sadness, a story of triumph, but most of all a story of survival.
To learn more about Jack Bruce and the legendary power trio Cream, be sure to visit us at: http://www.squidoo.com/cream-power-trio
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