Perhaps best known to casuals as the bassist of Cream, the Scottish virtuoso Jack Bruce in fact had a long and varied career that included rock, blues, jazz, classical, third stream, Latin, world music and fusion. He could play electric & upright bass, cello, piano, harmonica and was a singer/songwriter as well.
Growing up listening to jazz, he studied classical cello and was kicked out of music school for playing jazz on the side. In the early '60s he toured Europe in a big band and joined the legendary Blues Incorporated in '62, which splintered off into the Graham Bond Organisation. These groups included future Cream drummer Ginger Baker but they both hated each other and Bruce quit in '65. After a quickie solo EP for Polydor (and Bruce's rejection on an offer to join Marvin Gaye's band!) he joined up with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, of which Eric Clapton was a member of.
In '66 he found himself playing with Manfred Mann. On the side of that, Bruce and Clapton teamed up in Powerhouse, containing early versions of songs that Cream would play ("Crossroads" and "Steppin' Out"). In July of '66 the three geniuses formed Cream and proceeded to slay for less than three years, influencing a million bands.
The late '60s found him recording with The Scaffolds and playing free jazz and fusion. He joined Tony Williams' Lifetime until the band's break-up in '71. Following that he formed the hard blues rock trio West, Bruce & Laing with members of Mountain. The rest of the '70s saw more solo albums and tours, as well as work with Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Carla Bley's Escalator Over The Hill, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rocket 88 and others.
After some drug rehab in 1980 he worked with Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Soft Machine, Robin Trower and a particularly good run with Kip Hanrahan. The '90s saw him getting back with Baker at times and collaborating with Billy Cobham, Golden Palominos, Bernie Worrell & Vernon Reid, John Medeski, Horacio "El Negro", Michael Schenker and others. He had a liver transplant in 2003 and in 2005 Cream held reunion concerts. He attained recognition as one of the greatest bass players the world has seen, in a long career before his death in 2014. His children, Malcolm Bruce, Aruba Red and the late Jonas Bruce are/were also musicians.