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Revealed: rare photographs of Cream’s 1968 Norwich gig

PUBLISHED: 06:46 30 December 2017

Pause for reflection: Guitar legend Eric Clapton, pictured backstage at The Industrial Club before Cream's gig at the Oak Street, Norwich, venue on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant library

Pause for reflection: Guitar legend Eric Clapton, pictured backstage at The Industrial Club before Cream's gig at the Oak Street, Norwich, venue on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant library

Archant

They are rare photographs of members of what was described as the most famous trio in rock music of all time preparing to go on a small stage in Norwich of half a century ago. Derek James reports.

Cream bassist Jack Bruce, pictured backstage at The Industrial Club before their gig at the Oak Street, Norwich, venue on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant libraryCream bassist Jack Bruce, pictured backstage at The Industrial Club before their gig at the Oak Street, Norwich, venue on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant library

There were beauty contests, knobbly-knees competitions, guess the tune games, parties, discos and all kinds of fun and laughs at the dear old Industrial Club... oh, and then on January 5, 1968, Cream popped up.

And yes, we are talking about the real Cream, one of the most best-loved, talented, respected and thought-provoking pop groups of all time featuring the legendary Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

Cream drummer Ginger Baker, pictured backstage at The Industrial Club before their gig at the Oak Street, Norwich, venue on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant libraryCream drummer Ginger Baker, pictured backstage at The Industrial Club before their gig at the Oak Street, Norwich, venue on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant library

The fact they agreed to play at the Oak Street club at short notice – now The Talk – was down to the clever and sharp businessman Geoff Fisher who opened it as the first real working men’s club in the city.

Our reporter at this extraordinary gig, which attracted 1500 fans – how they all got in there I’ll never know - was Andrew Harvey who made the point that Geoff – his family later took over running the club – was a dab hand at booking the top groups at short notice.

Never before published, this atmospheric shot shows Cream in concert at the Industrial Club, Norwich, on the cramped stage at the Oak Street venue. Around 1500 fans crammed into the venue to watch the supergroup in action on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant libraryNever before published, this atmospheric shot shows Cream in concert at the Industrial Club, Norwich, on the cramped stage at the Oak Street venue. Around 1500 fans crammed into the venue to watch the supergroup in action on January 5 1968. Picture: Archant library

“Discotheque regulars have already been surprised by sudden bookings of names like the Pretty Things and Swinging Blue Jeans. For Alan Price and Manfred Mann there was a bit more warning but by far the most spectacular move so far was the announcement midway through last week of a visit on Friday by the Cream,” wrote Andrew.

And he went on: “In a week which had all the signs of being a pretty drab seven post-New Year days club wise the news was round the city in the time it takes to make a circuit of the one-way system.

“It was as if Norwich City had said a friendly with Workington was being replaced by one with Manchester United.”

In fact Cream had played the iconic Orford Cellar in Norwich of 1966 fans were disappointed the following year when they agreed to play at Gorleston but turned up without their equipment.

Some Cream devotees doubted the gig at the Industrial Club would actually go ahead but it most certainly did.

Our man on the floor reported how maestros Clapton, Bruce and Baker were at the club early and took the audience on a magical musical tour which left the sounds made by the majority of the Oak Street groups about a million miles away.

This was Cream’s first gig since returning from making records in the USA and the sight of these three “wizards” in action was a rare treat.

Andrew even got the chance to chat to Eric about the group’s recent decision to abandon the commercial world of the pop single. The singer-guitarist told Andrew that if the right song emerged it could be released as a single.

Then Eric, Jack and Ginger disappeared into the night and the crowd went home with a smile on their faces and a spring in their step – they’d only seen Cream at the Industrial Club!

The boys had a relatively short career in the rough and tumble world of rock but what a talent they were... their memory and their music will live on forever.

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