I never shared an article with Cream before, but here it is! 2 out of the band`s 3 members are now gone but will not be forgotten as they have left behind a huge amount of work in this and other bands. Enjoy this great article printed just a couple of months after they released their debut album.
Cream cut loose
By Keith Altham
This is the Cream interview which got loose in London – ran wild over their publicists` office – finally plunging from the depths of Mao Tse-tung, Aldous Huxley and the paraphernalia of Nazi Germany to Dan Dare, “Wind In The Willows” and Lord Snooty!
It began one rainy afternoon in Bruton Place when Ginger Baker, bearing not the slightest resemblance to any living person, staggered into the office where I awaited the trio — with his eyes closed.
“How are you?” I enquired.
“Terrible,” he replied and staggered out — still with his eyes closed. It transpired that both he and Eric Clapton (still a-bed at 3.30 pm) were recovering from the “Jimi Hendrix Experience” at a late night club the previous night.
Ginger returned and subsided on to a couch — opened one eye which looked remarkably like a large red marble — and spoke of his days as cycle pursuit champion with the Cambrian Wheelers! Ginge was very fit in those days, he said.
“I did a lot of cycle racing,” said Ginge, “sprint, time-trials, cross-country — I did ’em all,” he sighed, apparently for days now gone.
“I got my first gold tooth today,” he volunteered, “I rather like it.”
Following that revelation he went back to sleep and ten minutes later Jack Bruce arrived. Jack was in good form. He had been to bed since 3 am.
“I was reading ‘Wind In The Willows'” he explained. “I’ve been reading quite a bit lately — I read this other book about an alligator patrol in New York.
“It seems a lot of people who bought those little tiny alligators as pets got worried when they began to grow and flushed them down toilets.
“Then the `gators’ began to breed in the sewers and men had to be sent down to exterminate them. Then there was a book by Aldous Huxley where he says that everyone should try LSD —once— and he gives reasons why!”
From books we passed to papers. Jack apparently followed the Jell Hawke, Matt Dillon cartoon strips.
“My idols as a kid were Lord Snooty in the ‘Beano’ and Tough of the Track in the ‘Hotspur,’ said Jack. “I think what impressed me most was that Tough used to train on fish and chips. Or was that Wilson the super-athlete? He was always knocking people out with cricket balls.”
“Dan Dare and Harold Larwood,” mumbled Ginge, “they knocked me out. Larwood was the England fast bowler. He killed a dog on the boundary once with one of his faster deliveries. I played cricket — I was a slow bowler!”
From papers we got to politics and the “yellow peril” — a slight diversity of opinion here.
“I rather admire the Chinese for what they are trying to do — ideas of social equality . . . ” said Jack, ” I hope they don’t get loused up in this revolution.”
“I hope there is a civil war,” said Ginge, “it’s the only sure way to stop ’em dropping bombs on everyone. Those Red Guards are the Hitler Youth movement all over again.”
Which brought us very nicely to the arrival of that brilliant guitarist Eric Clapton, wearing his iron cross tucked discreetly inside his shirt.
“I don’t know why there is a sudden interest in the Nazi uniforms or decorations — I wear this simply because I think the design is great, said Eric.
“I’ve got an SS officer’s cap,” said Ginger, “I think it’s a good thing to wear these things. It makes a few people remember there was a war — it’s not a thing to forget or let happen again.”
“I think possibly the more fanatically interested have the kind of fascination for Nazi items in the same way people have a fascination for horror comics!” said Bruce.
We turned to more musical subjects.
“Jimi Hendrix is the most beautiful guitarist I’ve ever seen,” said Clapton. “I sat there watching and listening to him at the club last night and I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a fan all over again.”
“Some kids think that about you,” said Ginger sleepily, but pointedly.
With Jimi Hendrix’s fantastic stage act in mind we turned to the subject of why so many coloured groups from the U.S. have such a hackneyed stage presentation.
The Four Tops, for example, have such great voices but a finger-clicking, arm-waving, side-stepping routine that goes back to the Platters and beyond.
“I think they have been conditioned to believe that is what we want and what is expected of them,” said Clapton. “America has been stuck in a rut since the 1930`s with some of its stage acts and stage suits when it comes to groups.
“The Americans are terribly conventional on this score. Look at what the Beach Boys have to wear – can you imagine them coming on in military jackets?”
Having taken the top off the cream and some of their attitudes we started in on what they thought of their own group.
“I`d never play with anyone else,” said Ginge, “we`re playing the things we like and drawing good crowds. Our musical ideas are in sympathy with one another and we enjoy what we`re doing.”
“We`re not over concerned with our image,” said Clapton, “we are concerned with our music, new ideas, a new LP on which all the compositions will be our own and trying to be creative as a team.
Do they hope they get to No. 1 with “I Feel Fine”?
“I hope we never get to No. 1,” said the quietly perceptive Mr. Bruce. “It`s much better to be travelling than to have arrived!”