Watch as Glen Campbell introduces a declawed Cream to an American TV audience

Eric Clapton on the Glen Campbell show
(Image credit: YouTube)

It's the summer of 1968. Future country superstar, part-time Beach Boy and session man Glen Campbell is trying his hand at television, filling in as a replacement host on the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

It's a show that's perhaps most famous for the flash-bomb explosion that damages Pete Townsend's hearing forever, but the Smothers Brothers have always featured musical turns. Buffalo Springfield, Donovan, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and Steppenwolf all guested on the show, and July 14 features another stellar name.

It's Cream. Or it's "The Cream", as Campbell says (the band had dropped the 'The' two years earlier), in an introduction that's as awkward as it is error-strewn: he refers to the trio's session work, then goes on to proclaim their work with The Beatles. And while Eric Clapton would perform on The White Album's While My Guitar Gently Weeps two months later, neither drummer Ginger Baker nor bassist Jack Bruce ever worked with the millionaire mop-tops.   

Then it's on with the show. The song is Sunshine Of Your Love, written by Bruce and Clapton and originally released the previous November on Cream's second album Disraeli Gears.

And it's... a bit meek. Bruce and Baker are both in fine form, but Clapton's usual distortion has been substantially cleaned up, as if the studio engineers are fearful the long-haired English rockers with their Marshall stacks will damage their expensive microphones. It's Cream, but not as we know it. Defanged. Docile. Domesticated.  

Rumours suggest that Clapton and Campbell jammed together during rehearsals for the show, but no footage of this momentous union has ever surfaced. 

Cream would break up just four months later, while that awkward host would eventually be rewarded with his own show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran for four seasons and featured musical guests like Three Dog Night, Bread, Little Richard, Sonny & Cher, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Tom Jones and Nancy Sinatra.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.