Pete Brown, Lyricist for Cream, Dead at 82

Written by Randy Mitchell

Videos by American Songwriter

Pete Brown, the countercultural singer, poet, and songwriter who wrote many of Cream’s biggest hits, has died. He was 82. Brown died of cancer last Friday according to a post on his official Facebook page. 

Born in England in 1940, Brown entered the world amidst the German assault on Britain during World War 2. Like many young people who came of age in the uncertain post-war period, Brown found meaning in art. This love for creativity was evident from a young age.  As a teenager, he became a prominent member of the British poetry scene. An early proponent of the beat poetry style, Brown began performing live shows with other artists in the late 50s. 

Brown first tasted fame in the ’60s as a member of The First Real Poetry Band. He founded the group along with legendary Jazz performer John McLaughlin. It was during this time that Brown caught the attention of the band Cream. 

The London-based supergroup was formed in 1966. The group consisted of guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. It was Baker, who brought Brown into the fold as a writing partner for the band’s debut album, Fresh Cream. The album would go on to be recognized as one of the greatest in music history. After the initial project’s success, Brown would go on to contribute to the group’s next three albums. 

During his time working with Cream, Brown contributed to classics such as “Politician,” “Deserted Cities of the Heart,” and “Doing That Scrapyard Thing.” Two of his songs, “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room,” hold the honor of being on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. 

However, Cream’s success would ultimately be short-lived, with the group splitting up in 1968. But Brown had no plans of leaving the music business behind. Over the years, he would remain a frequent collaborator with Jack Bruce.

Brown would also continue working as a musician. He built a cult audience as a member of various bands, including Piblokto, The Battered Ornaments, Bond and Brown, The Interoceters, and Psoulchedelia. 

Bown is survived by his wife, Sheridan, his daughter, Jessica, who is also a musician, and his son Tad. 

Photo by Will Ireland/Guitarist Magazine/Future via Getty Images

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