Why Pete Townshend Called Cream ‘Empty’

Pete Townshend

In the early days of rock and roll, many bands tried to write catchy and radio-friendly songs to succeed. While this was true for most acts, there were a few exceptions. When the Who entered the rock scene, they took a different approach. They used the song as a storytelling tool, becoming pioneers of rock opera. The Who’s music stood out from many other bands, both in terms of lyrical content and sound.

Pete Townshend contributed to the Who’s success by writing original songs and playing lead guitar. He did so in a way that deviated significantly from the norm, which expected the lead singer to be the only dynamic member. As a prominent figure in the rock scene, Pete got the chance to observe many bands closely. The rocker is known for his blunt statements, and he once targeted Cream regarding their sound.

What Did Pete Townshend Think Of Cream?

Cream, with Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass, and Ginger Baker on drums, was also a part of the rock scene during the same period. Both bands made their live debuts in America on March 25, 1967, at the RKO Keith Theater on 58th and 3rd Avenue in New York. Pete and Eric performed together in Atlanta in 1974. Both bands undoubtedly made their mark on rock history.

Townshend has collaborated with Cream member Eric Clapton and closely followed the rock scene. Pete Townshend spoke with Rolling Stone in 1982 about one of his observations about his contemporary rock band Cream, as well as his thoughts on Eric Clapton. The vocalist admitted that he thought Cream sounded ’empty.’

Pete Townshend stated that one of the reasons was the difficulty of being in a three-piece band. He believed that the emptiness he felt in the sound could be solved with an electric organ player. Pete said he liked Eric Clapton’s guitar playing but didn’t always like his sound because it was sometimes ‘ muffled.’ He explained that he preferred Traffic and Blind Faith, two other bands featuring Eric Clapton.

“I have to say that listening to Cream felt empty at times. I thought they would have been so much better with a Hammond player. I’ve always enjoyed 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.”

Pete Townshend appears to have felt that the problem with Cream’s songs was not Eric Clapton’s playing. But it was about how the band members sounded together. He saw firsthand how much pressure being in a three-piece band puts on the lead guitar. And he explained that Cream’s problem would be solved with a Hammond player.

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