“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.”
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.
— Ginger Baker (@GingerBDrums) October 6, 2019
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.
The Baker family are sad to announce that Ginger is critically ill in hospital. Please keep him in your prayers tonight
— Ginger Baker (@GingerBDrums) September 25, 2019
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.
Beyond Cream & Blind Faith, the career of #GingerBaker was as wildly fascinating as the man himself … check out 'Ginger Baker's Air Force' or the 'LIVE!' album he did with afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti – I'm not kidding when I say I count this among my favorite albums of all time: pic.twitter.com/FYMOW5pGsy
— Ed Robinson (@eviledrobinson) October 6, 2019
Sad to hear innovative unforgettable drummer Ginger Baker has passed away. Personally never had any time for Cream, but when paired w/Fela Kuti & John Lydon, Baker's talent elevated them even higher. 2012 documentary about him shows he was singular as a human, in good & bad ways! pic.twitter.com/QCGmbaozBz
— Harvey G. Cohen (@CultrHack) October 6, 2019
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.
Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer. pic.twitter.com/tZg3IGwP4Z
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) October 6, 2019
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
God bless Ginger Baker incredible musician wild And inventive. drummer Peace and love to his family ?✌️?❤️???☮️ pic.twitter.com/jzAynDMEKy
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) October 6, 2019
“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.
The Bruce family would like to extend their sincere condolences to Ginger Baker’s family, friends and fans. Surviving a love hate relationship, Ginger was like an older brother to Jack, their chemistry was truly spectacular. RIP Ginger, one of the greatest drummers of all time ❤️ pic.twitter.com/G9Pl4Qecdp
— Jack Bruce (@jackbrucemusic) October 6, 2019
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. https://t.co/e3L4IHodhT
— Flea (@flea333) October 6, 2019
Tributes continue to pour in from other famous musicians who were inspired by his work.
— Steve Winwood (@SteveWinwood) October 6, 2019
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 & massaged it like no one else. Peace at last. RIP Ginger Baker. pic.twitter.com/kyvmpG5WHq
— Michael Des Barres (@MDesbarres) October 6, 2019
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.