Under A Bad Sign: Cream Start Their Long Goodbye
‘I was in bad shape. It wasn’t so much self-abuse as self-neglect,’ said Eric Clapton.
On July 10, 1968, Cream announced that within a few months, they would be going their separate ways. Just as their third album Wheels Of Fire was being released, and after considering the announcement for the whole of that year and even before, Eric Clapton declared that the band were splitting up, citing “loss of direction.”
At least their fans had some time to get used to the bad news. Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker went on to play a farewell tour from October, culminating in their famous final concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall on November 26 that year. Just before the tour started, they went to IBC Studios in London to record three songs, “Badge,” “Doing That Scrapyard Thing,” and “What A Bringdown,” to be added to what became their final album, Goodbye.
That LP was released early in 1969 and, with a running time of only 30 minutes, featured the three new songs after three live cuts recorded at the Forum in Los Angeles on the farewell tour. “Badge,” to many Cream’s last great moment on record, was co-written by Clapton with his friend George Harrison, who also played rhythm guitar on it and was billed on the disc as “L’Angelo Mysterioso.”
‘I was in bad shape’
“The workload was pretty severe,” explained Clapton to Uncut magazine in 2012 about the split. “We were playing six nights a week and I lost weight until I was about nine stone and I looked like death. I was in bad shape. It wasn’t so much self-abuse as self-neglect.
“I think that all added to the psychology of the situation, which was pretty tricky at the best of times. Ginger and Jack were dynamic characters and pretty overwhelming. It felt like I was in a confrontational situation 24 hours a day. Half my time was spent trying to keep the peace. And on top of that, you’re trying to be creative and make music.
Listen to the best of Cream on Apple Music and Spotify.
“I was calling home to Robert Stigwood, our manager, and saying, “Get me out of here – these guys are crazy. I don’t know what’s going on and I’ve had enough.” He’d always say to give it one more week. That was bearable as long as there was no visible alternative. But when something came along that showed another way, that was it for me.”
Buy or stream Cream’s Goodbye.
July 11, 2014 at 12:37 am
I saw Jimi Hendrix at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver later that year – I think it must have been October or November , and he played a significant portion of that concert in tribute to Cream and became somewhat rankled when some audience members kept shouting out names of big tracks they wanted to hear, yet completed the tribute undaunted . It was a memorable moment .
July 11, 2014 at 2:04 am
I am such a fan, I was all over everything they were up to!!! Little credit is given to jack’s solo stuff but I got it all and loved it… He was a big part of cream but Eric was the spotlight… Would love to see if they could come up with something great if they got back together!!!
July 15, 2014 at 6:10 am
I totally agree, and it’s GREAT to hear from someone who loves Jack’s solo albums, I consider his first 2, Taylor + Harmony my favourite records in my very large collection, I recently played Harmony Row and think that it’s even better than Songs for a Taylor, or at least more consistant, but both are brilliant, I think that was Jack’s highlight as a songwriter/performer..
October 12, 2014 at 3:34 am
Owned Live Vol.I&II before buying Good-bye; having given up on a reunion. How much would you enjoyed three new songs on that? Grateful for the BBC (which I think should be their name for a new studio album) and the first playing of Politician. Thought BBM sounded too much like lost tapes to stand on its own and Eric was sorely missed on Cities of the Heart; but he blows me away on Ships in the Night. What I read is that Badge gets its name from Eric misreading bridge over George’s shoulder as he wrote it saying “What’s that badge?”. 30 mins. is not long enough for a break-up. I Remember Jeep & Thanks for the Pepperoni.