John and I were married in Enid in January of 1968. I was 18 years old and he was 20. We, like many others of our generation, were caught up in the rarefied air of that time, filled with a hope of being able to affect change in a world we considered old and broken. We headed for the east coast shortly after our wedding and spent the next six months in Boston, where John had lived previously. We spent Sunday afternoons in the park with hundreds of free-spirited souls, listening to music and ideas which seemed so new, so invigorating to us. This seemingly blissful and idealistic period of time was soon permeated with the jolt of shocking events that would threaten to separate us from our idealistic dream life forever.
One of our favorite groups that year was Cream, which featured a young Eric Clapton as guitarist and vocalist. Cream was scheduled to play a concert at the Back Bay Theater in Boston in April, and we bought tickets. No one knew that on April 4th, oneday before the Cream concert, Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel. Also scheduled to play in Boston on April 5, 1968, was soul singer James Brown. City officials, as well as members of both bands, were concerned about continuing with the concerts, and seriously considered canceling the events. But in the end, both bands went on with their shows, and the James Brown concert was even broadcast live to encourage people to stay home and watch, rather than hit the streets and engage in violent behavior to protest the tragic killing of a national hero.
The Cream concert was riveting. One review of that evening says “This night Cream exploded, and Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton really turned it on”. Another quote says that “… this was one of their great performances. ... It’s just one of those frenetic group improvisations where they feed each other at an improbable tempo — a rare occurrence even in jazz.”
The group left it all on the stage that night. Those of us in the crowd also felt spent, oddly cleansed, yet knowing that the world had changed forever. Not in the peaceful way that so many of us had envisioned, but the desire to pursue our dreams remained. Later that summer, Bobby Kennedy would also be shot down. We mourned again, and thought of that amazing concert and the Cream’s 16-minute warm-up to one of their most popular songs “Sunshine of Your Love,” and whenever we could, we would bask in that mood, that music, that summer and that eternal hope.
John and Lindy Chambers,