The Honest Thoughts Of Pete Townshend On Cream

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 13: Pete Townshend of The Who performs during the 2017 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on August 13, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

With his unique songwriting and lead guitar playing, Pete Townshend helped the Who achieve popularity by breaking from the conventional wisdom that the lead vocalist should be the only dynamic and lead member. Pete had the ability to attentively examine several bands because he was a well-known character in the rock scene. The musician is renowned for making direct remarks, and he previously disparaged Cream for their musical style.

On March 25, 1967, both artists made their live American debuts in New York City’s RKO Keith Theater, located at 58th and 3rd Avenue. At the same time, Cream, including Ginger Baker on drums, Jack Bruce on bass, and Eric Clapton on guitar, was a part of the rock scene. In Atlanta in 1974, Pete and Eric performed together. Both bands undoubtedly had a significant effect on rock history.

Townshend has thoroughly studied the rock scene and has performed alongside Cream member Eric Clapton. Pete Townshend expressed one of his opinions about Eric Clapton and his modern rock band Cream in a 1982 interview with Rolling Stone. The singer admitted that, occasionally, he found Cream’s music to be “empty.”

One of the reasons, according to Pete Townshend, was the challenge of being in a three-piece band because, as he described, he believed an electric organist might fill the void in the sound that he perceived. Pete stated that although he appreciated Eric Clapton’s guitar work, he occasionally thought his sound to be a little “muffled,” and that in this regard, he preferred Traffic and Blind Faith, two other bands that also featured Clapton.

“I have to say, that was my experience listening to Cream, it felt to me that sometimes it sounded so empty. I thought they would’ve been so much better if they had a Hammond player. I always loved Eric’s playing, but not always his sound. It always felt to me like it was a bit muffled in the Marshall days. That’s why I prefer Traffic and Blind Faith. I like the sound of that.”

It seems that Pete Townshend thought that the band’s whole sound, rather than just Eric Clapton’s playing, was the issue with Cream’s songs. He saw firsthand how much strain playing lead guitar in a trio caused on the instrument, and he told Cream that adding a Hammond player would address this issue.