ST. CHARLES – It probably was inevitable that Will Johns would become a musician.
The nephew of famed guitarist Eric Clapton and son of noted recording engineer and producer Andy Johns – who worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix – Will Johns has a strong musical pedigree.
One of the bands that helped Clapton make his musical mark was ‘60s power trio Cream, comprised of Clapton, drummer Ginger Baker and the late Jack Bruce on lead vocals and bass. Guitarist Will Johns will perform with Jack Bruce’s son, Malcolm Bruce, and Ginger Baker’s son, Kofi Baker, as part of The Music of Cream 50th anniversary tour, which comes to the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Nov. 8.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Will Johns about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Eric Schelkopf: You have been touring with your bandmates as part of The Music of Cream 50th anniversary tour. What’s the chemistry like between you guys?
Will Johns: Yeah, there’s a real synergy there. We’re like brothers from a different mother.
Schelkopf: The tour marks 50 years since Cream played its farewell tour of the United States in 1968. Is it great to be part of that history?
Johns: It really is. Some of the fans have some little bits and pieces of memorabilia that they’ve kept with them all this time.
It’s the ideal opportunity for them to come out and show it off, right? We’ve seen some ticket stubs and stuff that people have been keeping in their pockets and wallets for 50 years.
Schelkopf: Is that amazing to you, that people had such a love for the band Cream that they would keep these items over the years?
Johns: It’s kind of far out, really, that they are so devoted to the band.
Schelkopf: I know that you’re Eric Clapton’s nephew, but you’re also a nephew of Mick Fleetwood and George Harrison. As far as Eric Clapton, did he encourage you to get into the music business?
Johns: He was supportive when I started to fool around with instruments when I was younger. He came to a show and, coincidentally, Malcolm Bruce’s band was playing with me at the time.
That was a long time ago. I think I was about 8 years old.
Schelkopf: Did he give you any advice?
Johns: He gave me a couple of pointers on singing and stuff. But other than that, not really. I had to figure it all out for myself.
Schelkopf: Of course, you are also the son of legendary recording engineer and producer Andy Johns. It almost seems like you were meant to be in the music business.
Johns: Yeah, there is a little bit of that to it. But it wasn’t too long ago that I was still working in the fishing industry. I wasn’t really playing out much. I was earning a living taking people out fishing on a charter boat.
Schelkopf: I know that you’ve had a lot of gigs with many notable musicians, including Jack Bruce. What was that experience like?
Johns: Well, that was one of the most amazing experiences really as a guitar player. The way he played bass was just amazing.
Schelkopf: What would you like people to come away with from the Arcada show?
Johns: To just come and have a good time and remember what it means to be electrified by music.
Schelkopf: Are there any Cream songs that you feel especially connected to or enjoy playing the most?
Johns: “Crossroads” is one of those songs. I’ve played that song since I first started playing guitar. It’s one of the first things I ever played. It’s close to my heart.
You know, they are all great songs.
Schelkopf: What do you think made Cream a band to be remembered for the ages?
Johns: It was just a combination of raw elements. They managed to pump out such a volume of work in the short time that they were together. They were such an incredible force of nature.
If you go
WHAT: The Music of Cream 50th anniversary tour
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8
WHERE: Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles
COST: $39 to $69