Cream were a 1960s British blues-rock supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker. Their sound was characterized by a hybrid of blues rock, hard rock and psychedelic rock, combining Eric Clapton's blues guitar playing, the psychedelia-themed lyrics, voice and blues bass playing of Jack Bruce and the jazz-influenced drumming of Ginger Baker.
Cream made a significant impact upon the popular music of the time, and along with Jimi Hendrix popularized the use of the wah-wah pedal. They provided a heavy yet technically proficient musical theme that foreshadowed and influenced the emergence of British bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and The Jeff Beck Group in the late 1960s. The band's live performances influenced progressive rock acts such as Rush, jam bands such as The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, Phish and heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath.
Cream's debut album, “Fresh Cream,” was recorded and released in 1966. The album reached #6 in the UK charts and #39 in the United States. It mainly consisted of blues covers, including "Four Until Late," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Spoonful" (written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin' Wolf), "I'm So Glad" (written by Skip James) and "Cat's Squirrel." The rest of the album featured songs written (or co-written) by Jack Bruce, most notably "I Feel Free."
“Disraeli Gears” followed in 1967 and went on to reach #5 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also their American breakthrough, becoming a massive seller there in 1968, reaching #4 on the American charts. The album features hits "Strange Brew," "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "Sunshine of Your Love."
The group's third album, 1968’s “Wheels of Fire,” was the world's first platinum-selling double album. The double album, featuring a live set and studio recorded songs, peaked at #3 in the UK and #1 in the US. The album showcased Cream moving slightly away from the blues and more towards a semi-progressive rock style highlighted by odd time signatures and various orchestral instruments. However, the band did record Howlin' Wolf's "Sitting on Top of the World" and Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign." The opening song, "White Room," became a radio staple. A live version of “Crossroads” appears on the second disc, featuring Clapton’s masterful guitar work.
Cream decided that they would break up in May 1968 during a tour of the US. Later, in July, an official announcement was made that the band would break up after a farewell tour of the United States and after playing two concerts in London. Before breaking up, the group released a final album in late 1968, aptly titled, “Goodbye.” It consisted of three studio recordings and three live performances. It was the band's only album to reach #1 on the UK Album Chart. It reached #2 on the US Album Chart
Cream is widely regarded as being the world's first notable and successful supergroup. In over two years, they sold over 35 million albums. In 1993, Cream were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and reformed to perform at the induction ceremony. Cream reunited for a series of four shows, in May 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the venue of their final concerts in 1968, at Clapton's request. The Royal Albert Hall reunion proved a success on both a personal and financial level, inspiring the reformed band to bring their reunion to the United States. Cream chose to play at only one venue, Madison Square Garden in New York City, in October 2005. In February 2006, Cream received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their contribution to, and influence upon, modern music.