My morning has been shaken by the passing of the extraordinary Jack Bruce, a man responsible for several albums that have been my regular companions since childhood. Of all of his many contributions to music, my favorite remains his work on Bill Ward's 1990 solo album, Ward One: Along the Way. It was Jack's singular voice – showcasing equal parts strength and vulnerability – that so brilliantly communicated the humanity of Bill's lyrics in “Light Up The Candles (Let There Be Peace Tonight)” and “Tall Stories.” And the man's bass playing – incomparable. Naturally, I could spend days writing about his work in Cream alone...
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Bill's album will be played at an appropriately high volume in my home today, as will Jack's BBM album with the Gary Moore – also departed. We must all strive to leave our mark on this world. Jack Bruce certainly left his in the form of songs that will be cherished for centuries. The man's life has been silenced, but the man's soul will be heard forever. Rest in Peace Jack Bruce.
- Joel Gausten
Bill Ward and I discuss Jack Bruce, 2005:
Joel Gausten: You had an extraordinary group of guest musicians on Ward One. How did you determine who was going to perform on a particular song? For example, did you write, say, “Tall Stories” with Jack Bruce’s voice in mind?
Bill Ward: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I wanted to do it as duo with me and Jack, and I could hear Jack singing it. So I tried to write, lyrically, something that I hoped would appeal to him, and a feel and a kind of a blues thing, which I hoped would have definitely appealed to him. Jack, as you know, had been deeply affected by blues music. So I wanted to make something that was attractive and hope that he would like it. I felt that it was an incredible risk, because I have so much admiration for Jack Bruce, for the work that he’s done over the years, and for all the work that he did before Cream, with Cream and after Cream. So I knew that I was working with a very, very, very, very special person. Jack, I know, very much enjoyed the two songs that he sang on, and he complimented me immensely on my writing skills, which again bolstered that terrible self esteem that I had, when I felt that I was pretty much washed up. I’m recovering from this person that was living literally in the streets, panhandling. I’m coming from a place of no home, no house, the loss of my family, everything’s gone, no finances, no money whatsoever. So I’m coming from a place of absolute poverty and wreckage, and then I’m trying to write something for Jack Bruce (laughs). It’s a story, you know? So I was quite fearful. When I saw Jack get into the songs, then I felt that we were definitely on our way. Jack gave me a lot of validation. I sat down with Jack and I talked to him for over a week. I just spent time with Jack, period. We talked about everything. We talked about Cream. We talked about a lot of stuff. It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience. Of course, I would love to work with Jack in the future, if it ever came up. He’s just such a great bass player and a wonderful singer, and he’s a very, very, very nice man. He’s a great man. He’s a wonderful artist, so I’m very privileged to have worked with him, and I tried to design something that I thought would be well-fitting for him.
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