Ginger Baker, the wildly influential and innovative drummer who laid the groundwork for heavy metal and world music and played with everyone from Fela Kuti to John Lydon to Max Roach, died Sunday after a lengthy hospital stay. He was 80.
“We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks,” the drummer’s Facebook confirmed Sunday, nearly two weeks after Baker’s family said he was “critically ill” in the hospital.
Paul McCartney, Flea, Jack Bruce’s Family Pay Tribute to Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. We worked together on the ‘Band on the Run’ album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul pic.twitter.com/Rne4tn6A2i
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) October 6, 2019
“Great drummer, wild and lovely guy,” McCartney writes of Cream rocker
Stevie Van Zandt called Baker, “One of the greatest drummers of all time,” and concluded with some advice: “Begin with Cream’s Disraeli Gears.” And Roots drummer Questlove wrote, “Rest Well To The Monster Rhythmatist”.
Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg simply wrote : “Thank you Ginger Baker,” while Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe said, “Rest In Peace Mr Ginger Baker.”
Gary Kemp, bassist with Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, remarked that Baker was “the reason so many drummers wanted a double-bass drum,” while singer Michael Des Barres said, “The primal, nuanced, angry power of Mr. Baker also describes who he was. Combining his character with his talent he lashed out at the world, rocked it and massaged it like no one else.”
Kinks founder Dave Davies wrote, “Ginger Baker was a great and unique musician and an innovator as well – he will be sorely missed – I met him many years ago in the old days and saw him a couple years ago in New York and he still sounded great. He always had nice things to say about the Kinks. I feel bad but he had a good run.”
A tweet shared (September 25) read: “The Baker family are sad to announce that Ginger is critically ill in hospital. Please keep him in your prayers tonight.” When a fan asked “Is this for real?”, a response from the official account read: “Sadly yes.”
“Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy,” Paul McCartney tweeted Sunday, soon after the drummer’s death was announced. “We worked together on the ‘Band on the Run’ album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea wrote on Instagram, “So much freedom in his playing. What a wildman. Rhythms we’ve hear all our lives he plucked them out of the sky. Rest In Peace Ginger Baker.”
“One of the greatest drummers of all time. Begin with Cream’s Disraeli Gears,” Steven Van Zandt tweeted.006
No further details about Baker’s illness have been disclosed at the time of writing. In 2013, Baker announced that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by smoking, and chronic back pain as a result of degenerative osteoarthritis.
In July 2016, he underwent open-heart surgery after being diagnosed with a “major” heart condition. He suffered a fall at his home four months earlier, which forced him to cancel shows with his band Air Force 3.
Baker founded Cream in 1966 with Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, the trio released four albums including the influential ‘Disraeli Gears’ before splitting in 1968. Baker and Clapton went on to play in Blind Faith with Steve Winwood of Traffic and Family bassist Ric Grech, who lasted only one self-titled album.
Recently daughter of legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker revealed when George Harrison made her the prize in a game of pool at Eric Clapton’s house when she was just 15,
Even by the hedonistic rock and roll standards of the 1970s, it was an outrageous proposition.
As an intimate group attending a party at Eric Clapton’s Surrey mansion prepared to play a game of pool, George Harrison made his wishes clear – the prize should be the 15-year-old daughter of legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker.
In a revealing new memoir, Nettie Baker says she ‘nearly choked’ at the suggestion, but was further shocked when Harrison then tried to ‘buy’ her for £2,000 later the same evening.
The episode took place in 1976 at Clapton’s Hurtwood Edge home and more than 40 years later, Nettie recalls it vividly.
‘People were laughing and taking it in good part when George said it and I was thrilled to be the centre of attention – but that was because I was young.’
I am not going to condone the behaviour of men in their 30s to teenage girls – because it’s wrong. George’s remarks definitely crossed the line in a way that people would be more careful about now.
‘Nothing terrible happened, but I realise now that was exactly how guys got away with it: because a lot of girls were too young to deal with it.’
Nettie, now 57, recalls: ‘After asking my age, George Harrison decided I should be the first prize in a game of pool. Later that evening, he offered to pay my dad £2,000 for me – and I nearly choked.’
The deal was never struck, of course. The party, which had a Twelfth Night theme, was attended by Clapton’s then-girlfriend, Pattie Boyd, her ex-husband Beatle Harrison and his new girlfriend, and Nettie’s parents Ginger and his first wife Liz, who brought her along.
Could Harrison have been joking? The only time I realised things might have been getting a bit out of hand was when my mother started to say, ‘Guys, can we just stop,’ ‘ she says now. ‘I thought it was great. All those things were happening and no one thought it was bad.’
‘I always liked Eric, who was more sensible than Ginger, and I got on with Jack [Bruce] too. But Ginger was so wilful that he used to say to me, ‘If you don’t do what I want, I’m going to overdose’.’
Nettie herself never took heroin, having been warned off it by Ginger himself in one of his more responsible moments and also seeing for herself a ‘horrifying’ junkies’ den to which a tearaway friend once took her.
‘I had only seen rich people taking drugs, I hadn’t seen the dark side of it, the other world – and the squat was a shock, full of pathetic monsters,’ she tells me.
‘The problem is, after Dad lost his money, you don’t fit. The people like the man who sold flowers think you’re loaded, but you have nothing. The rich people don’t associate with you any more because you’re unable to be in their world.