CREAM's JACK BRUCE Says He Was Joking About LED ZEPPELIN — Or Was He?

Jack Bruce of CREAM was in London Monday night (November 3) at the Marshall Classic Rock Roll Of Honour to accept the award for "Classic Album" for CREAM's "Disraeli Gears". Bruce told Classic Rock magazine at the event, "Everybody talks about LED ZEPPELIN, and they played one fucking [reunion] gig [at London's O2 in December 2007] — one fucking lame gig — while CREAM did weeks of gigs; proper gigs, not just a lame gig like ZEPPELIN did, with all the [vocal] keys lowered and everything. We played everything in the original keys. [Becoming animated]: Fuck off, ZEPPELIN, you're crap. You've always been crap and you'll never be anything else. The worst thing is that people believe the crap that they're sold. CREAM is 10 times the band that LED ZEPPELIN is."

This morning (Wednesday, November 5), Jim Johnson (a.k.a. J.J.) and Lynne Woodison of the Detroit rock station 94.7 WCSX called Jack at his home in London gave him an opportunity to clarify his comments.

"I was just having some fun with the press gallery, really," he said. "[I was being] fairly tongue in cheek, but it's also the truth…. I mean, obviously, those gigs that we did are now three years ago, so it's ancient history now. And they did do that gig, but they also hijacked that gig 'cause that was supposed to be a tribute for Ahmet [Ertegun; the late founder of Atlantic Records and mentor to many music icons], and we were going to be playing it, 'cause it was gonna be at the [Royal] Albert Hall, and it was gona be all sorts of people — the [ROLLING] STONES and all sorts of people were going to be playing — but then they kind of hijacked the gig and made it into a ZEPPELIN gig, and Eric [Clapton; CREAM guitarist/vocalist] and me decided that we didn't want to be a part of it — 'cause it moved to the O2, which is a quite large venue in London. And we thought it had gone in the wrong direction for us as a tribute to Ahmet . . . 'Cause we were really happy to be doing it, and it was going to be fun, because Ginger [Baker; CREAM drummer] was going to come from South Africa. And then Eric called me up and said, 'What do you think about doing this now that they're moving it to O2?' And I said, 'Well, I'm not very happy about doing that.' Because I don't really see CREAM in a place like that. We are more of an intimate sort of a band. We don't like playing vast places. The Garden is about our limit."

Bruce continued, "The thing about ZEPPELIN is that obviously it's a little bit of jealousy on my part — or more than a little bit — because the audience was created by CREAM and JIMI HENDRIX… this sort of very large audience… Then ZEPPELIN came along and had a very easy ride in that way. We were the pioneers and pioneers don't always get the recognition they deserve, maybe. But, on the other hand, it was true that they didn't play [the songs at the O2 concert] in the original key, and let's face it: Jimmy Page ain't no Eric Clapton… no matter what anybody thinks. . . I mean, the only decent guy, the one good guy in that band is dead… so what are you gonna do? [Laughs]"

He added, "You know my sense of humor… I have a terrible sense of humor. . . I was just having some fun. The trouble is if you say anything about the establishment… In Britain, you mustn't criticize the Queen or LED ZEPPELIN, basically."

When asked for his opinion on the possibility of LED ZEPPELIN going out on the road with someone other than Robert Plant on vocals, Bruce replied, "Well, I always thought Robert Plant used the wrong kind of fertilizer, anyway, so I think he might be an improvement… I'm just joking. Robert is one of the all-time, if not THE all-time, great rock singer — I'm not in that league; I'm more of a blues-type singer — and good luck to him."

You can listen to Jack Bruce's chat with Jim Johnson and Lynne Woodison at this location.

CREAM performing live at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2005:


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