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Short-lived but legendary, Cream set the standard for power trios and generally burned up the charts for its brief existence. Guitarist Eric Clapton had left The Yardbirds in search of a more authentic blues sound, which he'd found in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers; bassist Jack Bruce was already a veteran of several bands, including Manfred Mann's; drummer Ginger Baker was from the Graham Bond organization. They decided to jam together, liked what they heard ("We are the cream!" said Clapton), and soon started taking their blues-based sound in new and original directions. Their albums were hits, they had many successful singles, and their live shows became famous for long jams; their live albums stand as evidence of songs lasting over 16 minutes in live performance. Not surprisingly, given the creativity and drive of its members, Cream disbanded at the peak of its success in 1968, wrapping it up with a farewell tour of the U.S. Clapton and Baker went on to the even shorter-lived supergroup Blind Faith before Clapton launched Derek and the Dominos and his own solo career.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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