With a group like Cream, it's difficult to know where to start. In 1966, Eric Clapton was widely considered one of the best guitar players in rock 'n' roll, and after he left the Yardbirds, he got hooked up with Ginger Baker, a phenomenal drummer himself. After the two jammed together, Baker asked Clapton if he wanted to form a new group. Clapton agreed, but only on the condition that bassist Jack Bruce—who he had played with in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Powerhouse—be brought on board as well.
With Bruce in the fold, the group hit the studio in July of 1966, and their debut, Fresh Cream, was released in December of that year. Though it was not an automatic commercial smash, it features some of the most beloved rock songs ever recorded, including "I Feel Free," "Spoonful," and "I'm So Glad." For their follow-up, they dialed back the blues a bit and went for a more psychedelic approach. And it worked. Disraeli Gears easily outsold its predecessor, and it helped the group book its place in the pantheon of rock's greatest bands. With tracks like "Sunshine of Your Love," Cream also conquered America, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard Album Charts. The album undoubtedly sealed their place as one of the top groups of the generation.
Sadly, the group's success would be short-lived, as they would only go on to release two more albums. 1968's Wheels of Fire shot to the top of the American Billboard charts and represents their most progressive group of songs. Along with the 10-song studio album, the group released an accompanying live EP from the band's San Francisco shows in March of 1968. A year later they released their phenomenal swan song, the aptly named, Goodbye. Though Goodbye only featured four new studio recordings, the new songs, including the classic "Badge"—a song that Clapton wrote with George Harrison (who's wife, Pattie Boyd, Clapton famously went on to marry)—is a fitting end to the group's legendary career.
Like so many great artists from the era, their run was too short. Internal turmoil between the members, especially between Bruce and Baker, led to the group splitting up in May of 1968. But lucky for us, it was a hell of a prolific three years.
After they split, all three of Cream's members continued to make music. While Clapton's post-Cream career has been well-documented, Baker and Bruce also had respectable runs. Bruce put out a slew of solo albums from 1969 up until now. Baker also released solo albums, and teamed with Stevie Winwood (who also played with Clapton and Baker in Blind Faith) to release two discs under the moniker Ginger Baker's Air Force.
Since their breakup, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2005 they reunited for four concerts in London. However, due to continued interpersonal conflicts, they did not do any further touring. While there are incessant rumors about a full-scale reunion, no one is holding their breath.