David Bowie sees Cream live

David Bowie and his half-brother Terry Burns attended a show by Cream – Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker – on Wednesday 22 February 1967.

The show took place at the Bromel Club, in the Bromley Court Hotel, where Bowie had performed on occasion.

Burns had mental health issues, and found the concert distressing, forcing the pair to leave early.

Bowie noted the event in 1993 while promoting his 18th studio album Black Tie White Noise. The album contained ‘Jump They Say’, inspired by Burns’ 1985 death by suicide, and a cover of Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’.

‘Jump They Say’ is semi-based on my impression of my step-brother and probably, for the first time, trying to write about how I felt about him committing suicide. It’s also connected to my feeling that sometimes I’ve jumped metaphysically into the unknown and wondering whether I really believed there was something out there to support me, whatever you wanna call it; a God or a life-force? It’s an impressionist piece – it doesn’t have an obvious, cohesive narrative storyline to it, apart from the fact that the protagonist in the song scales a spire and leaps off.

There’s also a personal reason why I cover Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’ on the album. One of the times I actually went out with my step-brother, I took him to see a Cream concert in Bromley, and about halfway through – and I’d like to think it was during ‘I Feel Free’ – he started feeling very, very bad… He used to see visions a lot. And I remember I had to take him out of the club because it was really starting to affect him – he was swaying… He’d never heard anything so loud; he was ten years older then me and he’d never been to a rock club, because jazz was his thing when he was young. He turned me on to Eric Dolphy…

Anyway, we got out into the street and he collapsed on the ground and he said the ground was opening up and there was fire and stuff pouring out the pavement, and I could almost see it for him, because he was explaining it so articulately. So the two songs are close together on the album for very personal reasons.

David Bowie
NME, 27 March 1993
Last updated: 14 March 2023
Recording: The Laughing Gnome
Recording: Rubber Band, Love You Till Tuesday, When I Live My Dream
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