The Ultimate Supergroup’s Transatlantic Triumph

They were formed from the top division of British rock talent of the late 1960s, and lasted for precisely one album. But this was the day of the ultimate supergroup’s transatlantic triumph, when Blind Faith’s solitary, self-titled album went to the top of the charts in both the UK and US, for two weeks, on September 20, 1969.

The band was, of course, formed by artists who already had a remarkable track record. Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker arrived from Cream, Steve Winwood from Traffic (to whom he would return), and Ric Grech from another of the great experimental rock bands of the time, Family. The new band could hardly have made their debut in a higher-profile setting, as they arrived on stage at a free festival at London’s Hyde Park in June 1969, a few weeks before the Rolling Stones’ famous concert there.

An American debut soon followed at Madison Square Garden, followed by a US tour, and then the ‘Blind Faith’ album was unveiled by Polydor in the UK, and Atco in the US, in August. With new compositions by Winwood, Clapton and Baker, as well as a cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Well All Right,’ it was an instant success — and a controversial one, with its cover image of a topless, pubescent girl. So much so, in fact, that Atco declined to use it, featuring a band photograph on the cover instead.

Winwood dominated the album’s songwriting, with ‘Had To Cry Today,’ the flagship acoustic piece ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ (later covered by Clapton among others) and ‘Sea Of Joy.’ But Eric added his own ‘Presence Of The Lord’ and Baker had the extended closing track ‘Do What You Like.’ Exactly 45 years ago, that heady brew took the album to the top of the UK charts, replacing Jethro Tull’s ‘Stand Up’ for a fortnight before the Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ began an 11-week reign.

But even before the completion of the American tour, the members of Blind Faith had realised that their coming together was not the dream combination they might have hoped for. By the autumn, they were effectively no more, and one of the most short-lived successes in rock was already passing into history.

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