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Gunrunner and Creamful






Digger talks to Spencer Pratten who runs two tribute/covers bands, Creamful with their authentic take on Cream's rich catalogue of songs and Gunrunner with a blend of blues, seventies rock and sixties favourites.




Digger: Hello Spencer. How are you today?

Spencer: Very well thank you very much.

Digger: Can you tell us the background to Gunrunner and Creamful?

Spencer: Certainly. Gunrunner was first on the scene and that happened roughly five years ago – it was a bit organic as these things often start out. I got a few friends together and thought we’d form a band and over the years some people clearly weren’t quite up to it so things moved on. I’ve been a constant and I formed the band.

Digger: Where did you get the name from?

Spencer: Well, funnily enough we did a brainstorm.

Digger: Was this after twenty pints? (Both laugh)

Spencer: I said to them “the next rehearsal’s next week so all go away and we need to come up with a good ‘rocky’ name. You know what it’s like, people look at the name and then have to imagine what sort of music you’re playing?

Digger: Yes, it’s difficult isn’t it because you look at a lot of names and they’re either references from films and books or just random words thrown into a hat. It is important what name you choose because it creates a mood and a branding almost.

Spencer: Absolutely and I was hot on that. And for some reason we all came back and I got fixated with pirates and I had a vision of us as being piratical so Gunrunner came up.

Digger: Maybe inspired by Johnny Kidd?

Spencer: One of my heroes Johnny Kidd, so maybe there was a small psychological element in the back of my mind. The other guys went for it, so Gunrunner it was and we got a nice logo done with crossed pistols and a skull and crossbones which looked good. So that basically was where Gunrunner was. And then with personnel changes we drafted in Chris Campbell who was our lead guitar player. Chris had studied Eric Clapton from the age of fifteen when his elder brother took him to see Eric at one of those early Cream gigs in ’66. Chris is absolutely steeped in Clapton and if you close your eyes it’s almost like listening to early Eric. So, from Gunrunner I had an idea “Well hang on a minute, this guy plays and knows every Cream and Clapton song inside out” and played it brilliantly so the seeds of Creamful were born in my mind. So what I said to the guys was “look, it’s probably a little unusual but why not have pubs and clubs where we play Gunrunner and the classic rock set with a bit of sixties in…”

Digger: Spencer Davis, The Kinks, The Yardbirds. That sort of thing?

Spencer: Yes, we do all that stuff and the Creamful is almost like a side band although thinking about it I don’t really know which one now is more important to be honest with you. It’s almost like a side project but the same guys play in both bands and if we do Creamful it’s obviously a full Cream set with some nice sixties gear on and psychedilia flying about and it goes down very well. We’ve had a very appreciative response wherever we’ve played the Cream set.

Digger: Both are five piece?

Spencer: Yes. One thing I’ve put on the website is that we’re not interested in being a three piece look-alike. To me, it’s always been about the music. No-one has ever come up to us and said “You’re a five piece and Cream are three.” The music stands up for itself so people don’t really worry about that.

Digger: Have you had any of the original band members come along to watch?

Spencer: Unfortunately not. That would be a dream. I know Ginger won’t because he’s tucked away in south Africa now with his polo. We often have a laugh and wonder, because we’ve had loads of hits on the website and played some reasonably high profile gigs, whether Eric or Jack say “Buggers, they’re nicking our catalogue!”

Digger: I know The Stones have gone along and hired a box to watch a couple of tributes in the past.

Spencer: Have they really?

Digger: Yes, and they’ve even had a covers band booked to do a private party.

Spencer: How good is that?

Digger: So you never know.

Spencer: (Laughs) Hopefully we do them justice so they’d be pretty happy with what we do.

Digger: What I find with most of these tributes or cover bands is that they sound better than the real thing because they play more often than the originals.

Spencer: Yes.

Digger: Why are the groups and songs from the sixties and seventies so popular?

Spencer: Well, obviously it’s what we play because we’re all of an age from 52 to 60. That’s what we were brought up with and as a kid that’s what I cut my teeth on. And it’s enduring. I don’t want to sound like an old fogy here, but it’s quality music. It’s well-written, there’s great hook lines, it’s three minutes so it doesn’t drag on, it hits you between the eyes and even now after forty or fifty years it’s instantly recognisable.

Digger: It’s memorable isn’t it?

Spencer: And the minute you hear the opening bass of Keep On Running – the Spencer Davis Group, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Digger: It’s the first note usually.

Spencer: Absolutely. The quality of the musicianship and the song writing in those days was just so good.

Digger: It’s weird because I’ve noticed it wasn’t just your standard pop or rock that was great from those days. I go on to Youtube a lot and I’m sure you do too – always rummaging around there. I love TV and film themes as well and the other day I found a theme that I hadn’t heard for over forty years – The Ratcatchers, which was a sixties adventure/spy series and the theme was written by Johnny Pearson. The show was wiped unfortunately and I remembered the tune note for note from when I was a kid. It was perfectly memorised in my head and that shows how good all these tunes were.

Spencer: Absolutely, they stick with you and, like you, I’m a great Youtube user and I’m often on there for hours. Either looking for new tunes for the band to see what we can cover and little gems you’ve forgotten or maybe TV stuff. It’s a fantastic tool isn’t it?

Digger: The good thing there is if you like something there are also lot of related videos there.

Spencer: Yes.

Digger: What I don’t like about Youtube is all the nasty aggressive posts on there. People always seem to have spats with others over the daftest of things.

Spencer: It’s just false bravado – when you’re talking to somebody from America you can be as tough as you like.

Digger: Yes, that’s right. Why do you think that Clapton, Bruce and Baker produced something so special Spencer when they joined together as Cream? I think I might have mentioned that they are clearly three fantastic musicians - they play on their own as individuals but also meld together.

Spencer: You’ve hit the nail on the head there Digger. Having luckily seen them at the reunion in 2005...

Digger: Well done! Did you find it hard to get tickets?

Spencer: It was a travesty. I tell people to this day and they can’t believe it. There were hundreds for sale.

Digger: At extortionate prices?

Spencer: No, no, no, no. In the end the touts were giving them away.

Digger: Doh! How annoying.

Spencer: In fact, when I got there – I’d taken £500 out of my bank account on the Thursday - I went straight from work and said to the missus “I’ve got to give it a crack.” I jumped off the tube at South Ken and right away I saw a tout fanned about twenty tickets for the show and within twenty minutes before show time there must have been fifteen or twenty touts walking up and down with tickets. And they couldn’t shift them. I was on the ‘phone to people saying “Quick, get your backside down here sharpish.”

Digger: Did they?

Spencer: Yes, a couple made it.





Digger: What did the tickets go for?

Spencer: I paid £350 for my one but in the end I saw them going for forty quid and that was for a box in The Albert Hall.

Digger: Obviously it was packed.

Spencer: Oh yes, it was full. I was lucky enough to get in a box – I had one of the upper boxes.

Digger: With the Take That tour a couple of weeks ago all the ticket websites went down and the phone lines were permanently engaged. In the end there were twenty million people trying to get tickets and there were 1 million available for the tour. Can you imagine?

Spencer: Yes, but that’s what happened with Cream. I tried to get there on day one and at 9 o’clock absolutely nothing and I read that they were going for £2,000 a pair on eBay. They were like gold dust but it was scandalous really how the touts got a hold of them.

Digger: Good that you and your mates got in.

Spencer: Yes, so the reasons they were so unusual was that for the first time you had three really brilliant individual musicians in their own right and when they got together, and you’re absolutely right what you said and I saw this at The Albert Hall live spread across the stage; Bruce was doing a totally different bass run to what else was going on, Clapton was doing his bit, Baker was head down and doing his jazz fusion stuff and individually you listen to it and you thought they’re totally disconnected but when you listen to them overall it just gelled and melded into something magical. And that’s what they did.

Digger: Occasionally they look up to each other and give a wry grin or a timing cue.

Spencer: Absolutely. This is the thing with the timing – with Bruce and Baker, if you listen to the timing it’s not 4/4 stuff, it’s all over the place. But actually it works.

Digger: Ginger was saying that Bruce was still giving him a hard time and even if he wasn’t poorly they’re not going to get back together again because they still have all kinds of arguments. An interesting one and I would have thought that by now they would have resolved their differences.

Spencer: Well, it’s been there since ’62 I think.

Digger: Yes, theoretically they shouldn’t even have formed Cream because I think Baker was horrified when Clapton suggested that Bruce join to Baker.

Spencer: Yes, he wasn’t going to go ahead with it was he?

Digger: I’m glad he did and I guess you are too? If ever I feel a bit down I either put my Pink Floyd Pulse DVD on or my ‘double Cream’ one on – the farewell gig and the reunion gig. That always cheers me up. So Spencer... you’ve got an extensive set play list – can you give us and idea of the sort of material you play in an evening?

Spencer: For Gunrunner we’ve got a nice mix of classic blues, sixties and seventies so we would normally kick off with something like Free, Thin Lizzy, Bad Company, Steppenwolf – all those great tunes. Throw in a bit of Muddy Waters and maybe some Howlin’ Wolf – Down In The Bottom. And then second half just to get things moving a bit we bring out the sixties so it will be The Stones, The Yardbirds, Spencer Davis, The Kinks. You Really Got Me is always guaranteed to get people moving after that opening few chords. 

Digger: I interviewed Mick from The Kinks too, so that makes quite a few drummers we have interviews with. Mick Avory from The Kinks, Jim McCarty from The Yardbirds, Ginger Baker from Cream, Pete Best from The Beatles and Bobby Elliott from The Hollies. I wonder what the collective noun is for a gathering of drummers?

Spencer: A bash? 

Digger: (Laughs) That’s very good.

Spencer: A snare of drummers.

Digger: (Laughs) You’ve got a talent for this haven’t you? (Both laugh) We’ve found another string to your bow... Another question - how hard is it to reproduce an authentic sound and how much practise and rehearsal goes into this?

Spencer: The thing about playing covers is that, in my opinion, it’s actually tougher playing covers to an audience than it is playing your own stuff. People know the songs and they know the format and they have expectations. If you don’t do those four bars then they’ll pick it up, it’s incredible. So basically we do work hard at trying to ape the originals in terms of how it’s set out.

Digger: Does that stunt your creativity?

Spencer: Yes, in that respect it will do but where we score on the other side is where we do Creamful and people expect certain songs. But when we do Sunshine Of Your Love, for example, Chris will just riff over the top of the A chord until we’re ready to finish the song. With Cream you’ve got a lot more latitude to go on and to improvise. We’re not going to do twenty six minutes like the old days!

Digger: Is there a Toad drum solo?

Spencer: No, he’s capable of doing it but we decided that, perhaps, drum solos have had their day. (Digger laughs) I can remember sitting through Bill Ward at Black Sabbath concerts and Ian Pace and sometimes after ten minutes of drums you think “Oh God, come on…” Clearly in those days they were on a different planet, weren’t they?

Digger: There’s a great jazz drum solos DVD I've got with people like Joe Morello, Louis Bellson, Rufus Speedy Jones and so on and that is entertaining to watch and not tedious. Some fantastic stuff. And a drum battle between Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa.

Spencer: I saw that the other day. Wow, could those boys play.

Digger: What sort of feedback are you getting from clients and audiences?

Spencer: Very positive. We’ve generally been re-booked where we’ve played which has been nice. We’ve done The Cambridge Rock Festival for two years, headlined the Soul Festival in Kent last year with the Cream set.

Digger: You go anywhere and everywhere?

Spencer: We love playing. And although in this day and age we wouldn’t make a living from it, because as a five-piece the fee doesn’t go very far and just about pays your costs. But, personally, I don’t do it for the money and I just enjoy playing live. With the Cream thing - because it’s such a relatively difficult thing to play properly – most bands won’t take on too many Cream numbers. It gets people talking about Chris’s ability to play in that Clapton style and we’ve had some lovely comments around the world on Youtube. We’ve got quite a bit of product on Youtube and especially in the States they’re trying to get us to go over there and do a little tour.

Digger: If they make it worth your while?…

Spencer: If we could get someone to put a little tour together for us we’d love to go over there.

Digger: But they have to pay the right rate and it’s a vast country to cover.

Spencer: Yes, but it’s not about making a fortune. We just love playing the music basically.

Digger: You’d still need to be fed and watered and have somewhere to stay and the distances are so big in the States. Even bands likes The Zombies and The Yardbirds who still tour the US – I know that they struggle with the distances they have to cover over there and need certain numbers to justify doing it.

Spencer: Yes, especially if you have crew and big pantechnicons with the gear. It must be desperately hard to do it.

Digger: What about the future for Gunrunner and Creamful?

Spencer: Well the future’s looking rosy – we’ve just taken on a new bass player called Mike Steed, who was a leading bass player with Marmalade – I think two of the original Marmalade guys are still in the band. He had sixteen years with Love Affair.

Digger: Wow, so he knows all his stuff.

Spencer: Yes, absolutely. He does love the stuff we’re playing so he’s earning his living playing the Marmalade stuff.

Digger: Was it Steve Ellis the singer with Love Affair?

Spencer: That’s right.

Digger: I love some of the Marmalade songs. Rainbow and Reflections Of My Life. Junior Campbell left but I found Hallelujah Freedom on iTunes recently and what a great track that is.

Spencer: A great song. They’re very good song writers Marmalade. People think of Oh Bla Di Oh Bla Da but they had some good stuff. I’ve had a delve into it since Mike joined us and had forgotten how good it was.

Digger: Do you do any Badfinger songs?

Spencer: We try to stay upbeat. Perhaps if there’s one thing people might say about our set is “There’s not many slowies in here.” But we like to rock and Badfinger are a bit slow.

Digger: I suppose they were a bit melancholy and had slower numbers and a lot of ballads.

Spencer: There was the suicide won’t there?

Digger: Actually Ham and Evans both killed themselves. They wrote Without You but never saw much of the money from it. Very sad.

Spencer: In that case Digger you can guarantee we’re not going to be putting any of their stuff in our set! But really it’s probably because that sort of stuff is not in our normal envelope.

Digger: I was just thinking of the setup of the band that might suit their stuff too and you could show off some of your skills with their material. When people first heard them doing Come And Get It, Day After Day and No Matter What they thought it was The Beatles.

Spencer: Yes they did. The Beatles did sign them didn’t they?

Digger: Yes, they were one of the first on Apple. Well, that’s good Spencer, it sounds as though it’s onward and upward for you. Obviously tributes are very big these days and there’s a big demand.

Spencer: There is and if you get the right venue... What we’re looking to do now is get onto the more lucrative theatre venues where you can play to 300, 400, 500 and maybe a bit more. As far as I’m aware, there have been one or two Cream tributes around over the years but we like to think we’re as good as it gets in terms of Cream tributes. I was saying to someone the other day – if someone had been thirty in ’66 when Cream started that would now make them round about eighty-ish. So it’s incredible when you put it in those terms.

Digger: You’re right, I attended a wartime show the other week and most of the people who attended were in their sixties or seventies and would barely have remembered the war even so. There aren’t many of them left and it’s starting to happen with people who originally remember the sixties. I was actually a child of the seventies really but I love the sixties.

Spencer: We realise that Cream is a limited and specialist market. 

Digger: Do you get many youngsters?

Spencer: Yes, that’s nice. For Gunrunner and Creamful we get youngsters coming up saying what brilliant music it was and they wish they’d been born In that era.

Digger: There are a lot of youngsters who appreciate that music and those time, which is good. There is a bit of a backlash to the bland stuff that there is now. I don’t think that would have happened in the sixties or seventies. People wouldn’t have been avoiding The Beatles and Cream and Bowie and so on and saying “This is a load of old rubbish, I much prefer Glenn Miller, George Formby and Gracie Fields.”

Spencer: Or Joe Loss!

Digger: Yes, with the greatest respect, we knew what our parents had grown up with and could appreciate some of it, especially the rock and roll, but you and I didn’t grow up with rock and roll we grew up with the sixties.

Spencer: Again, like you I was technically a seventies person – Sabbath and Uriah Heep.

Digger: Spooky Tooth and ELP. You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw, a great album and a great title. You’d be good at doing Spooky Tooth as well Spencer. Cotton Growing Man – that was another great track.

Spencer: I remember that. That’s taken me back...

Digger: Thanks for letting us know all about Creamful and Gunrunner Spencer.

Spencer: Thanks Digger.




CREAMFUL are a five piece band from Essex who re-create that unforgettable vibe created by Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in the 1966/67/68 period, a sound that became the forerunner for the rock/blues explosion of the next decade.

The band have no interest in simply being a "look-alike 3-piece outfit": the legendary music comes first, pure and simple, and the aim is to sound like the most influential blues/rock band to emerge in the UK, and with the excellent quality musicianship that comes with CREAMFUL, you will be transported back to those heady psychedelic days of 1966,67 and 68 with such classics as White Room, Strange Brew, Sunshine of your Love, I Feel Free, Tales of Brave Ulysses and many many more.

The band have built a solid reputation during their relatively short lifespan for accurate, punchy and faithful recreations of the unique Cream sound, and with all members citing the brilliant trio as their main musical influences, then its no wonder that CREAMFUL are the band to see if its an original and vintage Cream experience you are after.

CREAMFUL play Cream the way it should be played, with power, an edge, and faithful to the groundbreaking style of Baker Bruce and  Clapton. If Chris wants to extend his solo's, he does...and we follow and see where we go in true Cream style.

Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love, Hey Lawdy Mama, Sweet Wine, Outside Woman Blues, I Feel Free, Tales Of Brave Ulysses, Dance The Night Away, Im So Glad, Hideaway, White Room,  Toad, Crossroads, Stepping Out, Spoonful, NSU,  Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign, Sleepy Time Time, SWLABR, Sitting On Top Of The World, Badge, Down In The Bottom


Creamful Website


GUNRUNNER are your Essex based Classic Rock and Blues Covers band. 

So to those who have never seen or heard us, what can you expect from Gunrunner?? Easy! Covers of all those rock band Classics from, amongst others, Cream (the bands speciality), Eric Clapton, Bad Company, AC/DC, Mountain, Free, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, The Small Faces, Wishbone Ash, The Doobie Brothers, Z Z Top, Fleetwood Mac, Thin Lizzy, The Yardbirds, and The Spencer Davis Group. We also do the Blues; Howling Wolf, Albert King and Muddy Waters to be precise. 

So, if you like your Rock bluesy, and your Blues rocky, we're the band for you.. it's loud, it's edgy but with soul and plenty of light and shade. Listen to our downloads on our site and you'll see what we mean.

FOR BOOKING: Spencer 07791871316 (Mob) or Chris 01708 230129

Gunrunner Website






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