by Don Green
Tokyo / Seattle
CREAM Fan...

EC at the Olympia
Courtesy &
T. Weschler, 2003

30 years ago on Oct 12, 1968… I was lucky enough to spend the evening at the Olympia Hockey Arena in Detroit watching Cream play one of their last concerts of their farewell tour.

As many here know I am a Cream Fanatic and I would like to make some comments on what Cream as meant to me and the music world in general.

If you listen to their music, it is easy to appreciate the power they brought to their music. But you must also consider the time frame that this music was recorded and the other music influences and performers around at
the time.

In 1966 The Beatles were king and instruments like the guitar, bass and drums were still just consider tools to support the singing. Cream changed all of that…

Olympia detroit.gif (50512 bytes) That night in 1968, I was still a teenager, who was also lucky enough to have already seen Cream at the Grande Ballroom earlier. But the Grande Ballroom was a small "smoke" filled ballroom which could handle maybe 1000-1500 people sitting on the floor mostly STONED…. Olympia was a HUGE 8000-11,000 seating sports arena in Detroit where the BIG names of the time like The Beatles played when they came to town.

On that night I went to that concert with two close friends of mine. When we entered the arena bought our concert programs and took our seats I was really shocked on how close I was to the stage. All I could see was HUGE
stacks of Marshall Amps. And a set of drums in the middle.

The show opened with a group called Friend and Lover, a Sonny and Cher style group of the day, they played maybe 45 mins, enjoyed their music. After a short intermission the next act was the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band.  They were really good and I really enjoyed their guitarist Jim Schwall who played GREAT electric blues, using his Acoustic guitar.. surprisingly considering the time.

After another 15 min break the lights went off and Cream came to the stage. I was surprised how close I was to Eric. My friends and I were in the 4th row main floor on the right side of the stage. Eric must have been maybe 20-30 feet away. His hair was very short compared to when I saw him earlier at the Grande. He was wearing a white jacket, and holding his Gibson ES335 guitar. In the center was of course was Ginger his hair bright red and tied in a pony tail, and Jack to the far left of the stage tuning his bass.

When they finally started to play.. I was overwhelmed, by the power/volume and force they projected. Eric played so LOUD, I could barely hear anything else. I can still remember only feeling the deep bass tones coming from the other side of the stage. Jack did almost all of the vocals. I also remember between each song, Ginger standing and grabbing a beer and taking a big gulp and smiling at the audience.

When the concert finally ended, my ears were humming…and after we left the concert arena all 3 of us were in awe..

For weeks after the show all we did was play Wheels of Fire and reflected on what we had witnessed.

Cream was the most talented trio of Rock/Blues musicians ever to play together. They set the Standard still never surpassed in their individual playing and as a group. Their ability to Jam was what set them apart from ALL others. They had prowess and respect for each other’s ability that made ALL others who were lucky enough to see them play just drop their jaw in envy…

Even to this day the first few notes of Spoonful or Crossroads from the Wheels of Fire album still give me a rush. Crossroads is the finest guitar solo yet recorded, and it STILL amazes me to see Eric comment on he never really liked the way he played on that cut.. LOL!!!!

I would enjoy hearing from others who can still remember what Cream was all about.

Islandgardens.JPG (13578 bytes)
Island Gardens, Long Island, June 14 1968.
Courtesy of Steven Gato Steven Gato 1998.
EC was playing the Firebird I, Don's favourite guitar

Don Green 1998