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My song for tragic Kelly; Rock legend Jack Bruce opens his heart about the loss of his own son, Joe, at just 28.

Byline: PAUL ENGLISH

GLASGOW guitar legend Jack Bruce is so worried by the rising number of teenage suicides that he's been moved to pen a song paying tribute to a young victim.

The former Cream singer, who has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, was so distraught by the story of 13-year-old English schoolgirl Kelly Yeomans who killed herself after years of bullying about her weight, that he has dedicated a song on his new album to her.

Now the man regarded by many as one of the world's best bass players, has thrown his weight behind the Record's Save Our Kids campaign.

``Kids nowadays are put under tremendous pressure to look and act a certain way,'' says the 60-year-old rocker.

``They have become a market, and they're really affected by image.

``The story of Kelly really got to me, like all these stories do. This was a little girl who was hounded to death basically because she wasn't good looking enough. ``And the fact more and more kids are taking their own lives shows this sort of thing is going on. The situation is outrageous.''

The song, Kelly's Blues, is a poignant eulogy to the tragic child who killed herself in 1997 -the same year as Jack's son Joe died of an asthma attack aged just 28.

Jack has no idea if Kelly's parents know about his tribute to their daughter. But he confesses the strain of losing a child of his own drove him ``a bit mad''.

``I couldn't play, and I couldn't focus for years after my son Joe died,'' he said.

``Eventually, I managed to pull myself back together, and I actually found that music was a great comfort to me.

``But everyone who goes through that sort of thing goes through it in their own way.

``My old Cream bandmate Eric Clapton wrote a song about the experience when his son died, but there's no way I could have done that. I still miss him terribly.''

Jack's new album, More Jack Than God, could be taken as a dig at his old bandmate Clapton, known as God for his axe-wielding prowess. ``People will think that it's a pop at Eric if they want to,'' he says.

``But the real reason is because I had worked with guitarist Godfrey Townsend on the album.

``When it came to mixing one of the songs, the sound engineer asked if we wanted `more Jack than God on guitars'.

``I just thought it sounded good.'' As the only Scottish inductee in Hollywood's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Jack reckons the Scottish music scene is ``too local'' to emulate his level of success.

He said: ``I can't think of a single Scottish band who would make it in. It's really hard to see. You've got to have been in the business for something like 20 years, and have sold so many million records. ``I was fortunate enough to be a member of a band which got out to the world.''

And Cream certainly did that, making such a big impact on the 1960s music scene that critics called them the most influential band since the Beatles.

Jack's well publicised battles with drugs and alcohol are well behind him though, and these days he gets his kicks from less potent substances.

``Those days have been put to bed,'' said Jack. ``There were times when I thought it was destroying me, but I don't know anything about the drugs scene now.

``These days I get excited if I see a classic Coke, with sugar and caffeine in it.''

SUPPORT THE SAVE OUR KIDS APPEAL

TO date, pounds 113,100.06 has been raised by Daily Record readers for the Save Our Kids Appeal.

Donations have come from members of the public, community groups and companies who have organised and participated in a range of fund-raising events.

These include abseils, marathons, fashion shows, discos, plus many more local activities. The money will go to Scottish mental health charity Penumbra, which provides a range of services across Scotland for people with mental health problems.

One in four people will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime.

Please support us to support mental health. To make a donation to our appeal, phone:0870 241 0195 Call Penumbra or log on at: www.

penumbra.org.uk (0131-475-2380)

CAPTION(S):

FAMILY MAN: Jack with his wife Magrite and kids Koila, Corin and Natasha; TRAGIC SCHOOLGIRL: Kelly
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 16, 2003
Words:742
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