Cream Co-Writer Pete Brown Succumbs to Cancer, Passes Away Aged 82

Pete Brown
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Pete Brown
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Photo Credit: Shu Tomioka / CC by 3.0

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

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

“Brown started his artistic career as a Beat Poet in the late 1950s,” the statement reads. “By the mid-1960s, he had sold out The Royal Albert Hall with both his British and American contemporaries, including Alan Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Michael Horowitz at the poetry happening Wholly Communion.”

His work with the First Real Poetry Band, which featured legendary jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, earned him the attention of Cream drummer Ginger Baker, who enlisted Brown as a writing partner for the group’s debut album Fresh Cream. Instead, Brown found he had better creative chemistry with bassist Jack Bruce, resulting in the single “I Feel Free.”

Pete Brown continued contributing lyrics to what became some of Cream’s best-known songs throughout their subsequent three albums. That 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 in Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

“Jack had more or less the music of ‘White Room,’ and we tried a few lyrics, and none of them had worked,” said Brown in a 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 that down to one page, it might be the right thing for it.”

Brown later revealed that he had lived in the eponymous “white room” after a period of semi-homelessness, where he recovered from his drug and alcohol habits and geared his poetry skills toward songwriting.

While he would continue writing with Jack Bruce for more than 40 years after Cream’s breakup in 1968, Brown also pursued his own career as a singer/songwriter. He became a figurehead in bands including 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 death of Jack’s long-term 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 his family and friends.”

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