LONDON — Ginger Baker, the unstable and propulsive British musician who was finest identified for his time with the ability trio Cream, has died at 80, his household says.
Baker’s household mentioned on Twitter that he died Sunday: “We’re very unhappy to say that Ginger has handed away peacefully in hospital this morning.”
Gary Hibbert, a media consultant for Baker’s household, confirmed his dying.
Baker wielded his blues energy and jazz method to assist break open widespread music and develop into one of many world’s most admired and feared musicians.
With blazing eyes and orange-red hair, and a temperament to match, the London native ranked with The Who’s Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham because the embodiment of musical and private fury. Utilizing twin bass drums, Baker usual a pounding, poly-rhythmic model uncommonly swift and heavy that impressed and intimidated numerous musicians. However each beat appeared to reflect an offstage eruption — whether or not his violent dislike of Cream bandmate Jack Bruce or his on-camera assault of a documentary maker, Jay Bulger, whom he smashed within the nostril together with his strolling stick.
Bulger would name the movie, launched in 2012, “Watch out for Mr. Baker.”
Whereas the Rolling Stone journal as soon as ranked him the third-greatest rock drummer of all time, behind Moon and Bonham, Baker had contempt for Moon and others he dismissed as “bashers” with out model or background. Baker and his many admirers noticed him as a rounded, refined musician — an arranger, composer and scholar of the craft absorbing sounds from world wide. He had been taking part in jazz since he was a teen and spent years in Africa within the 1970s, forming an in depth friendship with the Nigerian musician-activist Fela Kuti.
“He was so distinctive and had such a particular persona,” Stewart Copeland of the Police advised www.musicradar.com in 2013. “No person else adopted in his footsteps. Everyone tried to be John Bonham and duplicate his licks, nevertheless it’s uncommon that you just hear anyone doing the Ginger Baker factor.”
However many followers considered him as a rock star, who teamed with Eric Clapton and Bruce within the mid-1960s to develop into Cream — one of many first supergroups and first energy trios. All three have been identified individually within the London blues scene and collectively they helped make rock historical past by elevating instrumental prowess above the songs themselves, whilst that they had hits with “Sunshine of Your Love,” “I Really feel Free” and “White Room.”
Cream was among the many most profitable acts of its time, promoting greater than 10 million information. However by 1968 Baker and Bruce had worn one another out and even Clapton had bored with their deafening, marathon jams, together with the Baker showcase “Toad,” one in every of rock’s first prolonged drum solos. Cream cut up up on the finish of the yr, departing with two sold-out exhibits at London’s Albert Corridor. When advised by Bulger that he was a founding father of heavy steel, Baker snarled that the style “ought to have been aborted.”
To the shock of many, particularly Clapton, he and Baker have been quickly a part of one other tremendous group, Blind Religion, which additionally featured singer-keyboardist Stevie Winwood and bassist Ric Grech.
As Clapton would recall, he and Winwood had been taking part in informally when Baker turned up (Baker would allege that Clapton invited him). Named Blind Religion by a rueful Clapton, the band was overwhelmed by expectations from the second it debuted in June 1969 earlier than some 100,000 at a live performance in London’s Hyde Park. It cut up up after finishing only one, self-titled album, as notable for its cowl photograph of a topless younger woman as for its music. A spotlight from the file: Baker’s cymbal splashes on Winwood’s lyrical ballad “Cannot Discover My Means House.”
From the 1970s on, Baker was ever extra unpredictable. He moved to Nigeria, took up polo, drove a Land Rover throughout the Sahara, lived on a ranch in South Africa, divorced his first spouse and married three extra occasions.
He recorded with Kuti and different Nigerians, jammed with Artwork Blakey, Elvin Jones and different jazz drummers and performed with John Lydon’s Public Picture Ltd. He based Ginger Baker’s Air Pressure, which break the bank and imploded after two albums. He endured his outdated enemy, Bruce, when Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame in 1993 and for Cream reunion concert events a decade later. Bruce died in 2014.
Baker continued to carry out frequently in his 70s regardless of arthritis, coronary heart hassle, listening to loss relationship from his years with Cream and lung illness from smoking. No strangers to vices and never a fan of modesty, he referred to as his memoir “Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World’s Best Drummer.”
“John Bonham as soon as made an announcement that there have been solely two drummers in British rock ‘n’ roll; himself and Ginger Baker,” Baker wrote in his e-book. “My response to this was, ‘You cheeky little bastard!”‘
Born in 1939, Peter Edward Baker was the son of a bricklayer killed throughout World Conflict II when Ginger was simply four. His father left behind a letter that Ginger Baker would quote from: “Use your fists; they’re your finest buddies so typically.”
Baker was a drummer from early on, even rapping out rhythms on his college desk as he mimicked the large band music he beloved and did not let the occasional caning from a instructor deter him. As a teen, he was taking part in in native teams and was mentored by percussionist Phil Seamen.
“At this celebration, there was a bit band and all the youngsters chanted at me, ‘Play the drums!”‘, Baker advised The Unbiased in 2009. “I would by no means sat behind a package earlier than, however I sat down — and I may play! One of many musicians turned spherical and mentioned, ‘Bloody hell, we have a drummer’, and I believed, ‘Bloody hell, I am a drummer.”‘
Baker got here of age simply as London was studying the blues, with such future superstars as Clapton, Mick Jagger and Jimmy Web page among the many pioneers. Baker joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Integrated, the place he met (and shortly disliked, for allegedly taking part in too loud) the Scottish-born bassist Jack Bruce, with whom he was thrown collectively once more as members of the favored British group the Graham Bond Group.
Clapton, in the meantime, was London’s hottest guitarist, due to his work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, his extraordinary pace and agility inspiring “Clapton is God” graffiti. Clapton, Baker and Bruce would name their band Cream as a result of they thought-about themselves the very best musicians round.
“Oh for god’s sake, I’ve by no means performed rock,” Baker advised the weblog JazzWax in 2013. “Cream was two jazz gamers and a blues guitarist taking part in improvised music. We by no means performed the identical factor two nights working. Jack and I had been in jazz bands for years. All that stuff I did on the drums in Cream did not come from medicine, both. It was from me. It was jazz.”