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Ginger Baker: Legendary Cream and Blind Faith drummer dead at 80

Ginger Baker
Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker dies at 80. Pic credit: theeshrimpking/YouTube

The iconic Cream and Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker “passed away peacefully” in a hospital in England on Sunday morning, according to a statement by his family. He was 80 years old.

“We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning.,” the statement posted to Baker’s official Twitter page said. “Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks.”

Baker’s death came after his family announced on September  25 that he had been hospitalized due to “critical illness,” and asked fans to keep him in their prayers.

Although the family did not reveal any specific details about his illness, Ginger had shared in 2016 that he was diagnosed with heart problems.

He also underwent open-heart surgery that same year.

Who was Ginger Baker?

Ginger Baker (Peter Edward Baker) was born in Lewisham, South London, on August 19, 1939. He was nicknamed “Ginger” because of his flaming red hair.

He started drumming as a teenager and took lessons from the jazz drummer Phil Seamen.

He joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated in 1962 where he played with bassist Jack Bruce. Baker was known to be a temperamental person. Although he and Bruce had a contentious relationship as Blues Incorporated members, they later together joined the jazz/R&B group Graham Bond Organization.

He co-founded the rock band Cream with guitarist Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce in 1966 and quickly established a reputation as a virtuoso drummer. He is considered to be one of the most influential drummers in the recent history of pop music.  He was known for his lengthy drum solo performances during rock concerts.

Cream achieved international success with four albums, Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels of Fire (1968), and Goodbye and break-up (1968-1969). The band broke up in 1968, due partly to constant clashes between Baker and Bruce. After Cream broke up, Baker and Clapton teamed up to form the “supergroup” Blind Faith. He also later formed his own group, the jazz-rock band Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

Baker set up a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, in the early 1970s, and spent some years in the country working and collaborating with the famous Nigerian saxophonist and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti (1938-1997). He evolved a drum style that combined jazz with African rhythms.

 

He also collaborated with several other prominent artists, including the jazz bassist Charlie Haden, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and the guitarist and song-writer Gary Moore. He also worked with the rock bands Hawkwind and Masters of Reality.

People have been paying tribute on Twitter. Stars, including Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr, have also paid tribute.

“Surviving a love hate relationship, Ginger was like an older brother to Jack, their chemistry was truly spectacular,” a tribute by the family of his old bandmate Jack Bruce reads.

 

Tributes continue to pour in from other famous musicians who were inspired by his work.

Ginger battled with addiction for many years. He claimed in his autobiography that he quit heroin 29 times, according to TMZ.

He was inducted as a Cream member into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.


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