Blind Faith

Blind FaithFrom: England

Blind faith are arguably one of the greatest super-groups of all time. The band formed in 1968, consisting of  Eric Clapton (guitar), Ginger Baker (drums), Steve Winwood (vocals, keyboard) , and Rick Grech (bass). Blind faith lasted an incredibly short period of time, but still managed to sell hundreds of thousands of concert tickets as well as a million albums. They were such a powerful force in music that they are indirectly responsible for the merger of two major record companies into what would become Time Warner. This happened before they had even recorded one note of music.

Clapton and Baker’s former band Cream had sold millions of records during their career. At the time, Cream had developed such an elite status that they were seen as on par with acts such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The success of Cream became too stressful for the band, and problems between singer/bassist Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker got to the point where Clapton could no longer play the role of mediator.

Blind Faith initially started when Clapton and Winwood met with each other in hopes of forming a band. Winwood’s band Traffic had split in the beginning of 1969. Traffic would get back together and split apart several times over the course of their existence. At 20 years of age, Winwood was three years younger than Claptan, having emerged as a 17 year old star with the Spencer Davis Group. The two had long admired each other and shared a dedication to the blues. Both were interested in experimenting in a group situation without pressure.

Thinking that Cream could be saved by adding a fourth member, Clapton pursued Winwood. It turned out that nothing was going to keep Cream alive, but Clapton and Winwood really enjoyed working together. There was a time when Clapton had considered forming another trio, consisting of himself, Winwood, and a drummer. In January of 1969, Ginger sat in on a jam session of Clapton and Winwood. All those who were present were impressed and Baker became eager to be included in the band.

Clapton now found himself in an uncomfortable position. He had promised Baker that the two would work together on his next project, but having only been nine weeks since Cream split up, he wasn’t sure he was ready quite yet to come together again. Winwood failed to appreciate what Clapton felt, and persuaded him after intense arguing that Baker would only strengthen the group musically. The three members started working on songs in early 1969, and soon found themselves at Morgan Studios in London, laying out basic tracks. The songs really began to take shape om April and May of ’69 when they moved to Olympic Studios and worked with producer Jimmy Miller.

Despite Clapton trying to cover things up, those in the music industry knew exactly what was going on, discovering Baker’s role in the new music being written. Cream had always been a money making machine for its record labels, and it seemed as if labels were offering this new project even more money than what Cream received. Atlantic and Polydor were worried about the lineups they had since the departure of Cream, and they were hoping to get a hold of the next best thing. Atlantic did have another major project in the works with Led Zeppelin, but nobody was sure what they would become and how successful they be.

In May of 1969, the last member of Blind Faith was added to the band. Rich Grech (bass) left his band Family in the middle of their U.S. tour and joined Clapton, Baker, and Winwood. The name Blind Faith came from Clapton’s outlook on how things would work out.

Tours were booked for northern Europe and America. Millions of dollars had been promised for the tour of America, so contracts were signed and advances were paid. Blind Faith’s debut concert was at London’s Hyde Park on June 7, 1969. There were some 100,000 fans at the show who had been eagerly anticipating the show for weeks. Reports referred to Blind Faith as “super Cream” building the anticipation that much more.

Right from the first show, trouble started within the group. Clapton, the perfectionist that he is, apparently left the stage in the middle of the show at Hyde Park because he was upset with how poor he felt the band was performing. The 100,000 fans were hearing something totally different as they screamed in approval of the performance. Clapton was beginning to see the same things in Blind Faith that he had in Cream. It didn’t matter what he thought though, since the tour was already booked. Besides, it seemed all the band had to do was show up in order to please the crowds.

The tour of northern Europe went well. The band played in a lot of small clubs that were not in the spotlight in quite the same way. From there, the band went to America, debuting at Madison Square Garden for more than 20,000 people. A riot broke out with fans charging the stage, but police put an end to it. However, during the commotion, a police officer clubbed Ginger Baker in the head, mistaking him for an interloper, and Steve Winwood found his piano destroyed. The band was infuriated, realizing that they did not play well. They were under-rehearsed but fans roared and demanded more music, rioting their shows. Seven weeks across America and Canada ensued, with continuous trouble, particularly in Los Angeles with angry confrontations between fans and police.

The tour finally ended in August of ’69. Their self-titled album had been released by this time, which created a whole new level of controversy. On the album cover was a picture of topless pre-pubescent girl. The cover was banned in America, replaced with a picture of the group. In little over a month, the album had sold over half a million copies in America, hitting number one in both England and the U.S. The problem was that the album was considered to be too short. The music was excellent, but there just wasn’t enough of it. Blind Faith was never given enough time to grow as a band, expected to be ready from the minute they formed.

Blind Faith ended up being both too little and too much at the same time. While the money was more than anyone could have asked for, the gratification the members felt, especially Clapton, was lacking. Clapton went on to work with Delaney & Bonnie where he would no longer be in a leadership position. During this time he would meet Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, and Bobby Whitlock who gave him what he had hoped for with Blind Faith. This became Derek & the Dominoes, a band that played small clubs and stayed out of the spotlight.

Ginger Baker saw more positives in Blind Faith than Clapton did. Although he felt similarly to Clapton in terms of how things turned out, Baker enjoyed playing with both Winwood and Grech, hoping to stick together. In November of 1969, the three formed Ginger Baker’s Air Force, a big-band type ensemble mixing rock, jazz R&B, folk, African music, and blues. Winwood and Grech would leave after only two shows. It was thought that Winwood would begin working on a solo project, taking Grech with him. This led to the reformation of Traffic, and a new album, John Barkeycorn Must Die.

Artist information sources include: an article by Bruce Eder at Allmusic.com

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1969 album Blind Faith
Album

  • Can’t Find My Way Home
  • Do What You Like
  • Had To Cry Today
  • Presence Of The Lord
  • Sea Of Joy
  • Well All Right

Promos…

  • The New Cream – Concert Promo