Blind Faith were a super group of sorts, formed by Cream's Eric Clapton (guitar) and Ginger Baker (drums), Traffic and Spencer Davis Group's Steve Winwood ( keyboards/vocals), and Rick Grech (bass), from Family. They spent much of 1969 rehearsing before giving a free concert in London's Hyde Park in June of that year in front of 100,000 people. When their debut album was released ( on Polydor Records ), it caused quite a stir in that the cover depicted the nude 11 year old daughter of Ginger Baker holding a model airplane. This album cover was apparently banned in the US ( as it was here. Surprise,surprise! If Don Maclean's "American Pie" could be banned here, can you imagine what sleepless nights this lp cover must have given the protectors of our morals! Skande! But I digress....). The album nevertheless did very well on both sides of the Atlantic, going to number one on the charts, but the band unfortunately split up after just one US tour, with Winwood rejoining Traffic, Baker forming his Airforce and Clapton forming Derek and the Dominoes. If you profess to enjoy music of the late sixties/early seventies, then you need to have this classic album in your collection - it's a masterpiece.

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Biography by Bruce Eder
Blind Faith was either one of the great successes of the late '60s, a culmination of the decade's efforts by three legendary musicians — or it was a disaster of monumental proportions, and a symbol of everything that had gone wrong with the business of rock at the close of the decade. In actual fact, Blind Faith was probably both. By any ordinary reckoning, the quartet compiled an enviable record. They generated some great songs, two of them ("Sea of Joy," "Presence of the Lord") still regarded as classics 30-plus years later; they sold hundreds of thousands of concert tickets and perhaps a million more albums at the time; and they were so powerful a force in the music industry that they were indirectly responsible for helping facilitate the merger of two major record companies that evolved into Time Warner, before they'd released a note of music on record. And they did it all in under seven months together.

Blind Faith's beginnings dated from 1968 and the breakup of Cream. That band had sold millions of records and eventually achieved a status akin to that of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Cream's internal structure was as stressful as it was musically potent, however, as a result of the genuine personal dislike between bassist/singer Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, which occasionally overwhelmed the respect they had for each other as musicians, leaving guitarist/singer Eric Clapton to serve as mediator. After two years of service as a referee, spent all the while in an unremitting spotlight, the public seemingly hanging on every note he played, Clapton was only too happy to leave that situation behind.

The initial spark for Blind Faith came from Clapton and Steve Winwood, whose band Traffic had split up in January of 1969, amid acrimonious disputes over songwriting and direction. Winwood at age 20 was some three years younger than Clapton, and had emerged as a rock star at 17 as a member of the Spencer Davis Group, spending three years as the lead singer on a string of enviable R&B-based hits. His concerns were musical — he wanted to work with the best musicians, and wanted to experiment with jazz, which led him to leave the Spencer Davis Group and form Traffic, which proved riven by egos nearly as strong as the members' musical impulses. The January 1969 breakup would be the first of several temporary splits in the band's lineup.

The two musicians had long admired and respected each other — they shared an enthusiasm for and dedication to the blues, and complemented each other in the sense that Clapton's work was more oriented toward Mississippi Delta blues and its urban descendants, while Winwood came out of more of an R&B sound and had the voice to make that work, and both were interested in experimenting in a group situation without any pressure. It had even occurred to Clapton during the months of Cream's disintegration that the addition of a fourth member on keyboards might have stabilized the band, in terms of both its music and its internal dynamics.

As it turned out, nothing could have saved Cream, but he looked up Winwood anyway after the band's demise, in late December of 1968, and the two found that they genuinely liked working together. The notion of forming a band took shape as an eventual goal during jams between the two that lasted for hours. At one point, Clapton even considered forming another trio, between himself and Winwood and a third member as drummer. These ideas took a sharp, new, more immediate turn when Ginger Baker turned up to sit in with them in January of 1969. The results were impressive to all concerned, and the drummer was eager to be let into the group they were planning.

Clapton found himself in a personal bind, having promised Baker on Cream's demise that they would work together on their next project, but he was not looking forward to reuniting with him just nine weeks after the old group's final show, with all of the expectations that their linkup would engender from outsiders. Apart from his resentment at being the buffer between Baker and Bruce, Clapton had felt straightjacketed in Cream, required by the demands of fans and, by extension, the record company, to write, play, and sing blues-based rock in a certain way, and he'd also felt trapped in the band's experimental departures from blues. Winwood, who failed to appreciate the dangers that Clapton saw or the seriousness of the guitarist's resistance, finally persuaded him, largely on the basis of the fact that Baker's presence only strengthened them musically, and that they would be hard put upon to find anyone his equal.

They began working out songs early in 1969, and in February and March the trio was in London at Morgan Studios, preparing the beginnings of basic tracks for an album, which began seriously taking shape as songs at Olympic Studios in April and May under the direction of producer Jimmy Miller. The music community was already aware of the linkup, despite Clapton's claim that he was cutting an album of his own on which Winwood would play. The rock press wasn't buying any of it, knowing that Baker was involved as well, and then the promoters and record companies got involved, pushing those concerned for an album and a tour. 

 

Ginger Baker
Steve Winwood
Rick Grech
Eric Clapton

Derek & the Dominos
The Spencer Davis Group
GBU
Fleetwood Mac
The Allman Brothers Band
Al Kooper
The Blues Project
Buffalo Springfield
Dave Mason
Ten Years After
Peter Green
Delaney & Bonnie
Rod Stewart
Mountain
John Mayall
Jeff Beck
Steppenwolf
Manfred Mann
Jefferson Airplane
The James Gang
Jim Capaldi

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Blind Faith - 1969 - Blind Faith - 4/5

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