A supergroup is a musical performing group whose members have successful solo careers, are members of other groups, or are well known in other musical professions. The term can sometimes also be applied to a group that has no specific preferred genre. The term is usually used in the context of rock and pop music, but it has occasionally been applied to other musical genres. For example, The Three Tenors—composed of opera superstars José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti—have been called a supergroup.
A supergroup sometimes forms as a side project, with no intention that the group will remain together. In other instances, the group may become the primary project of the members' careers. It became popular in the late 1960s rock music for members of already successful groups to record albums together, after which they normally split up.[self-published source?] Charity supergroups, in which prominent musicians perform or record together in support of a particular cause, have been common since the 1980s.
Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner credited British rock band Cream, which came together in 1966, as the first supergroup. Eric Clapton, formerly of rock band The Yardbirds and blues rock band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers; Jack Bruce, formerly of jazz/rhythm and blues band the Graham Bond Organisation (GBO) and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers; and Ginger Baker, formerly of the GBO, formed the band in 1966, recorded four albums, and split up in 1968. Guitarist Clapton and drummer Baker went on to form Blind Faith, another blues rock supergroup which recruited former the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic singer, keyboardist, and guitarist Steve Winwood and Family bassist Ric Grech. The group recorded one studio album before disbanding less than a year after formation. Also in 1968 Jack Bruce joined the Tony Williams Lifetime, composed of bassist and vocalist Bruce, and three famous Miles Davis alumni: drummer Tony Williams, guitarist John McLaughlin, and keyboardist Khalid Yasin (né Larry Young).
The term may have come from the 1968 album Super Session with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Stephen Stills. The coalition of Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) in 1969 is another early example, given the success of their prior bands (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies respectively).
In 1974, a Time magazine article titled "Return of a Supergroup" quipped that the supergroup was a "potent but short-lived rock phenomenon" which was an "amalgam formed by the talented malcontents of other bands." The article acknowledged that groups such as Cream and Blind Faith "played enormous arenas and made megabucks, and sometimes megamusic", with the performances "fueled by dueling egos." However, while this "musical infighting built up the excitement ... it also made breakups inevitable."
- McDannald, Alexander Hopkins, ed. (2000). The Americana Annual 2000. Grolier. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7172-0231-7.
- Rosenberg, Stuart (2009). Rock and Roll and the American Landscape. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4401-6458-3.[self-published source?]
- "Show 53 – String Man. : UNT Digital Library". Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 1969. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
- "Cream Bio". Rollingstone.com.
- "Strange Brew," John McDermott, Guitar World Magazine, November 1997
- Thompson, Dave (2005). Cream: The World's First Supergroup. Virgin. ISBN 1-85227-286-4.
- Ward, Ed (2016). Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613733318.
- "Music: Return of a Supergroup". Time. 1974-08-05. Archived from the original on December 28, 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-24.