Cream Go To Yale

Written by Brian Wolfe

April 7, 2021

When my father got his first stereo component system, instead of tossing the console unit to the curb, he and I dragged it into my bedroom, down the end of the hall. It was on this unit late one night on the Yale FM station WYBC I first heard The Cream’s first LP played in its entirety. It was one of those life-changing nocturnal emissions that changed the way I viewed playing electric guitar forever. My best friend Peter Mitchell and I promptly went to Merle’s Record Rack in New Haven and bought the LP.

I had a trio at the time with Peter on bass and his brother John on drums. We started learning the Fresh Cream LP song by song. When we found out that Cream was going to appear a short drive down I 95 at Yale’s Woolsey Hall, Peter and I knew we had to attend the concert. The online date for this show is recorded as 4-10-1968, which would have made me 16 years old for only three days, explaining why my father drove Peter and me to the concert. There will be more about my dad in this story later on.

Our seats were front row balcony, almost in a direct line with the bass player Jack Bruce. The strongest recollection I have of the set was the first song, “Spoonful.” I had never heard it before and was transported to a state of ecstasy. It was not included on the US release of Fresh Cream , so the song was a complete surprise. It was centered on just two notes and went on for what seemed like forever, most likely about 20 minutes or so. It took the help of a friend to figure out those two notes the next day! The other song from that show that sticks in my mind is the last song, “Toad.” Ginger Baker’s extended drum solo in this song was equally as long as the extended guitar solo in “Spoonful.” Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce left the stage for this part of the song, leaving Ginger alone on stage. When they came back they both had a beer in their hand.

After the show, we went down to the stage to check out their amps. By the time we met up with my father, it was well after the concert. He asked what took so long? “Eric wanted to meet you. I told him you had a Les Paul and had spent hours learning his songs.”

I was pretty skeptical. My father was known for being a joker. It was when he showed me the beer he had from backstage that I knew he was telling me the truth. My dad was in law enforcement and knew the police doing security backstage. They let him in, and he got to hang with the band during “Toad’s” drum solo.
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