Rolling Stone issue #10 had a cover date of May 11, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo by Linda Eastman.
This is the issue that proved beyond any doubt that Rolling Stone was having a clear impact on the rock and roll scene it was covering. This is the issue where Jann Wenner proved he wasn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. This is the issue that made Eric Clapton faint.
Clapton was on the cover and it featured the Rolling Stone Interview with Eric Clapton as well as a full-page ad for Disraeli Gears and Fresh Cream. But there was also a live review of a recent Cream show in Boston written by Jon Landau.
Cream has been called a jazz group. They are not. They are a blues band and rock band. Clapton is a master of the blues cliches of all of the post-World War II blues guitarists, particularly B.B. King and Albert King. And he didn’t play a note that wasn’t blues during the course of the concert. […] Yet melodically, the improvisation was indistinguishable from the one that took place on their next number, “N.S.U.,” and rhythmically they never did anything more advanced than a 4/4. By abandoning the chord progression of the song they started out with and improvising solely around the root chord, (which, by the way, is a far cry from having abandoned a chord structure, which Clapton says he is prone to do) they insure the incompatibility of the solo compared with the song. And ultimately what I wound up hearing was three virtuosos romping through their bag, occasionally building it into something, occasionally missing the mark altogether, but always in a one-dimensional style that made no use of dynamics, structure, or any of the other elements of rock besides drum licks and guitar riffs.
Ouch! Years later, Clapton admitted how this review affected him: “All during Cream I was riding high on the ‘Clapton Is God’ myth that had been started up. I was flying high on an ego trip; I was pretty sure I was the best thing happening that was popular. Then we got our first kind of bad review, which, funnily enough, was in Rolling Stone. The magazine ran an interview with us in which we were really praising ourselves, and it was followed by a review that said how boring and repetitious our performance had been. And it was true! The ring of truth just knocked me backward; I was in a restaurant and I fainted. After I woke up, I immediately decided that it was the end of the band.” (RS #450, 1985)
Is it an exaggeration to say that Jon Landau’s review broke up Cream? There may have been other factors, but it’s pretty clear that it had an effect.