Cream co-writer Pete Brown dies of cancer, aged 82

Photo credit: Shu Tomioka / CC from 3.0

Pete Brown, the British singer-songwriter who co-wrote some of Cream’s most popular tracks, has died at the age of 82 after a “brave battle with cancer”.

Singer-songwriter Pete Brown, who co-wrote some of Cream’s most popular songs including “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room”, has died at the age of 82 “after a brave battle with cancer”. Brown’s family shared the news on Friday Brown’s Facebook page.

“Brown began his artistic career as a beat poet in the late 1950s,” the statement said. “In the mid-1960s, the Royal Albert Hall sold out at the Wholly Communion poetry event with its British and American contemporaries including Alan Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael Horowitz.”

His work with the First Real Poetry Band, which included legendary jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, caught the attention of Cream drummer Ginger Baker, who hired Brown as a writing partner on the group’s debut album cream. Instead, Brown found that there was better creative chemistry between himself and bassist Jack Bruce, leading to the single “I Feel Free.”

Pete Brown continued to contribute lyrics to some of Cream’s best-known songs over the next three albums. These included “Sunshine of Your Love”, “SWALBR”, “White Room”, “Politician”, “Deserted Cities of the Heart” and “Doing That Scrapyard Thing”. “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love” were both named Rolling Stoneis the list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

“Jack pretty much had the music from ‘White Room’ and we tried a few lyrics, but none of them worked,” Brown said in an interview documentary about the song. “Then I thought about this poem that I had, and it was an eight-page poem — I thought if I cut it down to one page, maybe it would be right for it.”

Brown later revealed that after a period of semi-homelessness, he had lived in the eponymous “white room” where he recovered from his drug and alcohol habits and focused his poetic skills on writing songs.

While writing with Jack Bruce for more than 40 years after Cream broke up in 1968, Brown also pursued his own career as a singer/songwriter. He became a figurehead in bands like Piblokto, The Battered Ornaments, Bond and Brown (with Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith), The Interoceters and Psoulchedlia.

“We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Jack’s longtime friend and writing partner, Pete Brown.” tweeted the family of the late Jack Bruce. “We extend our sincere condolences to Pete’s wife, Sheridan, and Pete’s children, as well as all of his family and friends.”

Pete Brown is survived by his wife, Sheridan, daughter, singer/songwriter Jessica Walker, and son Tad, a musician/restaurateur.