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In March of 1968, Cream were about halfway through a long tour of the U.S., their popularity on the burgeoning psych-rock scene approaching climax. Their second album, 1967’s Disraeli Gears, had been a huge success, charting high in both Britain and America behind totemic songs like “Strange Brew,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” Their third, the double-album Wheels of Fire was set for a summer release and would land with another thunder clap, with the near-unprecedented talents of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker evolving into further experimental territory. But all was not well with the band. Baker and Bruce couldn’t stand each other, and Clapton complained that the band’s shows were devolving into garish displays of one-upsmanship. It hadn’t even been 18 months since the release of their debut LP Fresh Cream, but the trio had been hurtling forward with such speed and force that they were already out of gas. In May, they decided to break up for good, stunning the music world. As it turned out, this tour of America would be their last.
Read: The 15 Best Albums of 1968
On March 9, 1968, Cream were at the Winterland Ballroom for the penultimate performance of a two-week run San Francisco. For this show, the band broke out a few songs from Fresh Cream, including “N.S.U.,” “Toad” and “Sleepy Time Time.” Even if the band was on the verge of collapse, they sounded no less powerful, with all three members locked into a power groove that couldn’t be equaled at the time, and maybe since. Listen to Cream play the molten blues of “Sleepy Time Time” as well as their anthemic “Sunshine of Your Love” on this date 50 years ago.