R.I.P. Ginger Baker: “Had to cry today”

Black and white image of Baker playng an elaborate drum kit withe Cream 1968. By Omroepvereniging VARA – http://www.beeldengeluidwiki.nl/index.php/Bestand:FTA001009845_006_con.png, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20520339

From Wikipedia:

Baker lived in Parker, Colorado between 1993 and 1999, in part due to his passion for polo. Baker not only participated in polo events at the Salisbury Equestrian Park, but he also sponsored an ongoing series of jam sessions and concerts at the equestrian centre on weekends.

From Westword (Susan Froyd):

Fourteen Songs That Rocked the Radio in 1968

14) Cream: “Sunshine of Your Love” From the 1967 breakout album Disraeli Gears but released as a single in ’68, “Sunshine of Your Love” is driven by Cream’s blend of poetry and pure power -trio sonics. As a band whose members always seemed to be working with — and against — one another in a web of dynamic tension, the amalgam of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker still sounds fresh decades later. “Sunshine of Your Love” breaks the aesthetic down to its true nitty gritty.

From The New York Times (Peter Keepnews):

Ginger Baker, who helped redefine the role of the drums in rock and became a superstar in the process, died on Sunday in a hospital in southeastern England. He was 80.

His family confirmed his death in a post on his official Twitter account.

Mr. Baker drew worldwide attention for his approach to the drums, as sophisticated as it was forceful, when he teamed with the guitarist Eric Clapton and the bassist Jack Bruce in the hugely successful British band Cream in 1966.

Keith Moon of the Who was more uninhibited; John Bonham of Led Zeppelin — a band formed in 1968, the year Cream broke up — was slicker. But Mr. Baker brought a new level of artistry to his instrument, and he was the first rock drummer to be prominently featured as a soloist and to become a star in his own right. Mr. Clapton praised him as “a fully formed musician” whose “musical capabilities are the full spectrum.”

Both as a member of the ensemble and as a soloist, Mr. Baker captivated audiences and earned the respect of his fellow percussionists with playing that was, as Neil Peart, the drummer with the band Rush, once said, “extrovert, primal and inventive.” Mr. Baker, Mr. Peart added, “set the bar for what rock drumming could be.”

But Mr. Baker, who got his start in jazz combos and cited the likes of Max Roach and Elvin Jones as influences, bristled when the word “rock” was applied to his playing. “I’m a jazz drummer,” he told the British newspaper The Telegraph in 2013. “You have to swing. There are hardly any rock drummers I know who can do that.”

Mr. Baker’s appearance behind the drum kit — flaming red hair, flailing arms, eyes bulging with enthusiasm or shut tight in concentration — made an indelible impression…

Drawn to the drums at an early age, Mr. Baker talked his way into a job with a traditional-jazz combo when he was 16 despite his lack of professional experience. Before long, he was well established on the London jazz scene…

n 1962 Mr. Baker joined Blues Incorporated, one of the earliest British rhythm-and-blues bands, beginning his contentious but musically rewarding association with Mr. Bruce. When the organist and saxophonist Graham Bond left that band in 1964 to form his own group, the Graham Bond Organisation, Mr. Baker and Mr. Bruce went with him.

Two years later they teamed with Mr. Clapton, whose work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers had made him one of Britain’s most celebrated guitarists, to form Cream…

Mr. Baker’s next band was, on paper, even bigger than Cream: Blind Faith, in which he and Mr. Clapton joined forces with the singer, keyboardist and guitarist Steve Winwood, known for his work with the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. (The less famous Ric Grech was the bassist.) Hopes were high, but Blind Faith imploded after one album and one tour, the victim of excessive hype and conflicting egos…

Mr. Baker and the other members of Cream were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. The band reunited for concerts in London and New York in 2005 and received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2006…

Asked in [an] interview how he would like to be remembered, he paused for a moment and then gave a one-word answer:

“Drummer.”

Leave a Reply