SONGWRITER

Cream's biggest hit inspired by Hendrix's debut in England

Sunshine of Your Love by the British rock band Cream is perhaps their best known song that spawned numerous covers across genres over the years. 

The song's origins lie with Cream bassist Jack Bruce and his distinctive bass riff which he developed after attending Jimi Hendrix's first London concert at the Saville Theatre on 29 January 1967. After the riff had taken roots, guitarist Eric Clapton and beat poet Pete Brown later contributed to the song. 

Clapton elaborated in an interview:

"He [Hendrix] played this gig that was blinding. I don't think Jack [Bruce] had really taken him in before [...] and when he did see it that night, after the gig he went home and came up with the riff. It was strictly a dedication to Jimi. And then we wrote a song on top of it."

The song became Cream's highest charting American single and one of the most popular singles of 1968. On top of that, Sunshine of Your Love earned the title of the best-selling record at the time for the Atlantic group of labels.

Pete Brown wrote the opening line after being up all night working with Bruce and watching the sun come up. Brown told later: 

"We had been working all night and had gotten some stuff done. We had very little time to write for Cream, but we happened to have some spare time and Jack came up with the riff. He was playing stand-up bass, and he said, 'What about this then?' and played the famous riff. I looked out the window and wrote down, 'It's getting near dawn.' That's how it happened."

Cream performed Sunshine of Your Love regularly in concert and issued several live recordings. In turn, Hendrix performed faster instrumental versions of the song which he often dedicated to Cream.

Hendrix's engineer and producer Eddie Kramer recalled: 

"Jimi loved Cream, he loved Eric Clapton. It was a fabulous song, he loved to play it, and he would just rip into it whenever the mood hit him." 

Share this story
you may also like
  • The History of Popular Music

    Discover stories from each decade. Listen to gems from the 1960s, 1970s, and more.
  • Early Music

    Read all about the formative music of the past centuries. Enjoy the regal yet easy sounds of the Baroque and Renaissance.
  • Indian Classical Music

    Dive into the South Asian philosophy through Indian classical music. Learn about musical traditions of the Hindustani and Carnatic culture.
  • The Epoch of Romanticism

    Get a taste of the most beloved and fruitful music period. See the personalities behind the major shift of the eras — from Classical to Romantic.