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 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—has 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 late 1960s rock music for members of already successful groups to record albums together, after which they normally split up. 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 Cream, which came together in 1966, as the first supergroup. Eric Clapton, formerly of The Yardbirds; Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, formerly of the Graham Bond Organization; and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers 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 Spencer Davis Group and Traffic singer Steve Winwood and Family bassist Ric Grech. The group recorded one studio album before dissipating less than a year after formation.
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."
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- "Cream Bio," Rolling Stone.com
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- 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 – via https://books.google.com/books?id=43WADAAAQBAJ&lpg=PT150&ots=BVA_eeKzaj&dq=supergroup%20%22super%20session%22&pg=PT150#v=onepage&q=supergroup%20%22super%20session%22&f=false.
- "Music: Return of a Supergroup". Time. 1974-08-05. Retrieved 2010-05-24.