david cohen wrote:I'm not sure Cream really fit the definition either.
Sure they did. All three members were already known properties. Clapton from his work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and Bruce and Baker from The Graham Bond Organisation. While in The U.S. most people have at least heard of The Yardbirds -- they did have six Top 40 singles from 1965-1966 although Clapton was gone after their very first taste of fame ("For Your Love") -- neither Mayall nor Graham Bond ever had much impact stateside, but all of those groups were pretty well known across the pond. So unless you define supergroup
in strictly American terms, I think Cream's as good a candidate as anyone.
(Fun fact: Graham Bond later ended up in a supergroup himself when he joined Ginger Baker's Air Force, which also featured Steve Winwood and Ric Grech -- who btw, prior to Blind Faith had been in Family, another group Brits would've known that Yanks did not -- as well as Denny Laine [formerly of the original, pre-orchestral Moody Blues, soon to be of Wings.])
That said, I think there may be one earlier candidate (and when I went to check their membership, was glad to see Wikipedia agreed.) That'd be Steampacket
, comprised of folks who'd been members of Blues Incorporated, The Cyril Davies R&B All-Stars, The Hoochie Coochie Men, Brian Auger's Trinity, and The Echoes (as well as other even more obscure groups.) Again, judged solely from an American perspective, those bands illicit reactions of "Who?", but British blues, R&B, and jazz fans would've likely known most or all of them and while only Rod Stewart went on to major international stardom, I think many in-the-know music fans even today are familiar with Long John Baldry, Brian Auger, and Julie Driscoll, at least by name. The one thing that prevents me from insisting they count is their most famous (and best) work came after the supposed supergroup, and that seems backwards to me.
(Fun fact: Steampacket -- sometimes Steam Packet, sometimes The Steampacket -- never got to officially record, as Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart had separate managers and Baldry was already signed as a solo artist to United Artists. This prevented the band's
manager [yes, we're now up to three managers] from getting a contract for the band. The thwarted manager? Giorgio Gomelsky, one of rock's great non-musicians. For some time, he was running The Crawdaddy Club, an R&B venue which was instrumental in launching The Rolling Stones when they had a residency there in 1963. The Stones were followed by The Yardbirds, who Gomelsky went on to manage and produce. He also had a hand in nurturing The Animals and Soft Machine. He introduced The Beatles to The Stones. He founded an influential PR firm as well as Marmalade and much later Zu, two independent recording labels. He eventually moved to France where he worked with Gong and Magma, then ended up in NY by the '80s, were he hooked up with Bill Laswell to produce some early Material sides. He died just last year.)
As for CSN&Y, they never gave him official billing but their drummer from 1970-1972 (he plays on 4 Way Street
as well as solo records from that era by all four members) was John Barbata, who'd been in The Turtles. He eventually wound up in the final (and admittedly mostly worthless) incarnation of The Jefferson Airplane -- during one of the periodic snits where various CSNYs weren't speaking to one another, I reckon -- and stuck with them when they morphed into Jefferson Starship. But don't hold that against him -- he was a great drummer and The Turtles were a fantastic band, so I think he deserves mention when "supergrouping" CSN&Y.
(Fun fact: During the CSNY era, David Geffen tried to get Barbata to join some new band that was coming together out of session work -- which Barbata also dabbled in -- called the Eagles; he declined, seeing as he was already in one of the biggest groups going.)