Blind Faith

Origin: Ripley, Surrey, England

Link: Facebook

Genres: Blues-Rock

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Blind Faith were an English blues rock supergroup composed of Steve Winwood (lead vocals, keyboard, guitar), Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals), Ginger Baker (drums, percussion) and Rick Grech (bass and violin) active in 1969.  The band was eagerly anticipated by the music press and audiences as a continuation of Clapton and Baker’s former group Cream and Winwood’s former group Traffic, but disbanded after one album and tour.

The group originated with informal jamming by Clapton and Winwood in early 1969.  After Baker heard about the band and joined them in rehearsals they decided to unite as a group.  Bassist Rick Grech from the band Family was invited to join as the fourth member.

Their debut album cover featured a prepubescent girl on the cover and was banned in America.

Blind Faith’s debut concert occurred on June 7, 1969 in Hyde Park, London before an estimated crowd of 100,000.  The band lacked enough songs and included old Cream and Traffic songs to fill out the set.  The tour continued on to Scandinavia before moving to America for a show at New York’s Madison Square Garden in July 1969.  The tour concluded with a show in Hawaii in August after which Clapton and Winwood decided to end the group.

Blind Faith came together when Clapton’s band Cream began to crumble.  Considered to be the first true supergroup, Cream had become international stars selling millions of records in a few short years.  Despite the success animosity between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker had reached a boiling point with Clapton forced to play mediator.  In addition Clapton had become weary of playing commercially-driven blues and hoped to move forward with more experimental approach to the genre.

Winwood faced similar problems first with The Spencer Davis Group where he had been the lead singer for three years.  Winwood wanted to experiment with the band’s sound by infusing jazz elements, but left due to musical differences and instead forming Traffic in 1967.  With that band in hiatus Winwood began jamming with his good friend Clapton.  While both were hesitant to start a group, and at one point the pair thought that they might record with Duck Dunn and Al Jackson Jr., the rhythm section of Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

In early 1969, Clapton and Winwood moved to Traffic’s rehearsal cottage in Aston Tirrold, Berkshire.  Ginger Baker turned up one day to sit in with them and talk of forming a group turned serious.  Initially Clapton had doubts of playing again with Baker a mere nine weeks after Cream had disbanded and did not want the drama of another supergroup “situation.” Winwood eventually convinced Clapton that Baker strengthened their musicianship, but eventually conceded that Clapton probably would have preferred Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi in the group.

The new band’s name was confirmed as “Blind Faith” by Clapton, who thought it described everyone’s self-belief that the band would be successful no matter what happened.

A promotional single was released by Island Records, although the promotion was for the label itself.  The one-sided promo featured an instrumental jam by the band.  An estimated 500 copies were pressed and mostly sent to music insiders.  The track was finally released in 2000 on a two-CD Deluxe Edition of their debut album with the title “Change of Address Jam.”

Upon its release in July 1969 Blind Faith topped the album charts in Britain and America selling more than half a million units within its first month.  The album also stimulated sales of Clapton and Winwood’s former groups.

The cover art was created by a photographer friend of Clapton who was known primarily for his photos of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead.  The cover was nameless, only the wrapping paper identifying the artist and the album’s name.  It provoked controversy because it featured a topless young girl holding in her hands a silver spaceship.  In America the record company issued it with an alternative cover with a photograph of the band on the front.  The model had posed with permission of her parents for the album cover.

Blind Faith’s one and only tour featured all six numbers from their debut album, along with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” Traffic’s “Means to an End,” and Sam Myers’s “Sleeping in the Ground.”  Clapton in particular was against any lengthy jamming, as had been the case in Cream, which would allowed them to have stretched out a set of sufficient length.  While the performance was well received by fans Clapton felt that the band was woefully unprepared.

As the tour went on Clapton in particular became increasingly isolated from his bandmates preferring to spend time with opening act Delaney & Bonnie.  Because Clapton liked the soulful, folksy-sounding blues of Delaney & Bonnie, he began spending most of his time with them instead of Blind Faith, and letting Winwood take a more prominent role in the band.  Clapton even began sitting in on Delaney & Bonnie’s opening sets, sometimes playing percussion.

In October 1969 Blind Faith issued a press release announcing that the band had split up.  There was no further activity from the group, though several tracks from the band can be found on Steve Winwood’s 1995 retrospective album The Finer Things.  In 2005, the live album, London Hyde Park 1969 was released.

Eric Clapton never completely dropped his Blind Faith repertoire as “Presence of the Lord,” and “Can’t Find My Way Home” have often appeared in his sets.

While Blind Faith’s brief career was not a positive experience for Clapton and Winwood both enjoyed their collaboration and the pair over the years have joined together on several tours playing Blind Faith material.

Reference –

Blind Faith discography

“Change of Address” (1969 promotional single)

Blind Faith (1969)

Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Blind Faith.  All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/

Check out Blind Faith performing “Can’t Find My Way Home.”