Peter Edward Baker… more commonly known as ..Ginger Baker is the greatest living rock drummer! He’s closer to Buddy Rich than John Bonham.. He’s closer to Gene Krupa than Keith Moon… When asked, Baker claims he’s a musician first… and not just a mere drummer. He’s more of an icon than being a rudimentary player. Rock eats its young! Ginger Baker is like a beast from another world. A world of pressed rats, warthogs and toads. Known for perfect drum fills, being truculent to reviewers, cantankerous to fans and just a big-time prick…Gifted with immense talent and cursed with a temper to match.
Ginger Baker combined jazz training with a powerful polyrhythmic style in the world’s first, and best, power trio. While clashing constantly with Cream bandmates Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, the London-born drummer introduced showmanship to the rock world with double-kick virtuosity and extended solos. The mind-bending accuracy with which he clouts the dozen or so drums and cymbals around him seems impossible when one looks at his scarecrow body. His physique provides the reason for Cream’s demise. If Baker lives another year it will be a miracle. His whole nervous system is so wracked by amphetamines that he literally has to be carried off the stage after a performance. Following the breakup of the short-lived Blind Faith, Baker moved to Nigeria for several years in the Seventies.
Cream Performing “Pressed Rat And Warthog”
There he studied African drum beats and breeding polo horses. In the years since, Baker has kept busy with an impressive array of projects, flaunting his signature bravura, intricately braided grooves in undervalued mid-Seventies venture Baker Gurvitz Army, jazz combos featuring star soloists like Bill Frisell, and compelling collaborations with Public Image Ltd and Masters of Reality.
I had a peculiar interaction with Baker while I was promoting to radio the Masters of Reality. A masterful album that was terribly misunderstood! I’ll confess I can be a groupie at times and meeting one of the greats was no different. He really doesn’t like to talk… He rolls his own cigarettes.. a mixture of tobacco and cannabis. He really couldn’t give a fuck about non- smoking laws. He loves his afternoon tea and is an aficionado of Italian coffee. It was a sight to see him speak Italian to a hotel restaurant waitress in Oklahoma City.. I did get Ginger Baker to crack! No, he wasn’t pleasant but he would answer my sophomoric queries. When I asked him why they called themselves “Cream,” he emitted this type of lecherous laugh that would turn anyone with an unmarried daughter into a life-long advocate of the police state: “It was a fuckin’ joke…a dirty fuckin’ joke.” In February 2013 Baker was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from years of heavy smoking, and chronic back pain from degenerative osteoarthritis. In June 2016 it was reported he was recovering from open heart surgery, but had also suffered a bad fall which caused swollen legs and feet.
You know…the music you play is like the life you live.