October 6, 2019

"Ginger Baker, one of the most innovative and influential drummers in rock music, has died at the age of 80."

"His style combined the lyricism of jazz with the crude power of rock. One critic said watching him was like witnessing 'a human combineharvester.'... Nicknamed Ginger for his flaming red hair, the musician was born Peter Edward Baker in Lewisham, south London, shortly before World War Two. His bricklayer father was killed in action in 1943, and he was brought up in near poverty by his mother, step-father and aunt. A troubled student, he joined a local gang in his teens and became involved in petty theft. When he tried to quit, gang-members attacked him with a razor. His early ambition was to ride in the Tour de France but was forced to quit the sport when, aged 16, his bicycle got 'caught up' with a taxi. Instead, he took up drumming. 'I was always banging on the desks at school,' he recalled. 'So all the kids kept saying, "Go on, go and play the drums," and I just sat down and I could play. It's a gift from God. You've either got it or you haven't. And I've got it: time. Natural time'" (BBC).

His natural time with us is now over. Goodbye to Ginger Baker.



ADDED: My son John blogs a commemoration of Ginger Baker — with a clip from Blind Faith's first concert and the comment "Ginger Baker's drumming added so much to this — it's hard to imagine it with a typical rock drummer":

47 comments:

Temujin said...

He was the brilliant machine. Ginger Baker was a machine at work back there. Jazz, rock, blues. With his red hair and non-stop drive, it was hard to not watch him back there. Even when he was fronted by the likes of Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. He was also a tough opinionated dude. I saw a documentary a year or so ago about him. It had been years since I had seen or listened to him. I forgot what a fireball he was. No one like him.

I miss these people of our musical era that we're losing. Today's musicians don't seem to have the same unique creativity. Or it's removed from them before they are allowed to 'become'. Either way, today's music seems empty by comparison.

Fernandistein said...

You've either got it or you haven't.

Fernandistein said...

Is that narrator Jean-Luc Godard? I hate his voice.

Fernandistein said...

Godard = this cretin?

Amexpat said...

Ginger Baker was of course a great drummer and Cream a super group. But I found some of the long drum solos he did with Cream to be tedious. It seemed to be more about showcasing his virtuosity than adding to the song. That may work in jazz but not in Rock, where long guitar solos seem to fit in better than long drum solos. (Although in my youth, before my musical tastes were fully developed, I was really into the long drum solo in, In-A-Gadda-Vida)

Mr. Groovington said...

Ginger Baker, Carl Palmer, John Bonham. Those were good days.

Tank said...

Amazing he lived that long. A great drummer- many learned from him. One thing they learned was long boring solos. About 98% of all drum solos are not worth listening to. But he was great as the driving force in the background.

BUMBLE BEE said...

"If there's a rock n roll heaven you know they've got one helluva band". Saw Cream in '67, cost $3:00. Mesmerizing.

Jon said...

In-a-gadda-DA-vida

chuck said...

> Is that narrator Jean-Luc Godard? I hate his voice.

At the end of the interrogation, Baker was found guilty of playing the drums.

rcocean said...

I always thought drumming the lowest form of music and musical talent. But no doubt he was good at what he did.

stevew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Sometimes like George Krupka in "Sing, Sing, Sing" they can add a lot to song. Or in "WIpe out" the drum solo is the whole song. But for the most part, they're just there in the background beating away or occasionally doing a little solo. Its a good thing Ringo was such a good actor, because he was really the last and least of the Beatles.

stevew said...

Another rock n roll great has left us. Soon they will all be gone.

RIP Ginger Baker.

Rocketeer said...

I would say "RIP, Ginger," but he wasn't a nurse, so...

Narayanan said...

This was amazing to me

Whiplash

https://m.imdb.com/title/tt2582802/

wild chicken said...

And we were all so sure he'd be dead before he turned 30!

wild chicken said...

And we were all so sure he'd be dead before he turned 30!

daskol said...

He was so good I even bought the Ginger Baker Trio record that’s shit through with this Hawaii sounding bullshit. The documentary about him and his surprisingly hardscrabble living from a decade ago is worth a watch. Drummers are weirdos and drummer jokes seem to have a solid basis in drummer reality such as it is.

wild chicken said...

I always thought drumming the lowest form of music and musical talent

You're not wrong but it's something you can get into late (as Baker did) and catch up quickly on.

Saying this as a drummer of 50 years who got into it at the ripe old age of 15.

Wince said...

"Nicknamed Ginger [Baker] for his flaming red hair..."

When as a small child I first heard his name I thought it was because he baked gingerbread men.

Fernandistein said...

Is that narrator Jean-Luc Godard?

It's Patrick Allen, talker-over of concerts.

But I found some of the long drum solos he did with Cream to be tedious.

I have a pretty extensive Cream collection, live, outtakes, etc, and "Toad" is in the "Dumb" category, along with Cream's Falstaff beer advert.

robother said...

Makes me wonder how many potential drum prodigies are being diagnosed as ADHD in primary school, and medically eliminated from the Gene (Krupa) pool?

Yancey Ward said...

Listening to some Cream right now as I write.

Amexpat said...

In-a-gadda-DA-vida

Yes, of course. The song doesn't make any sense without the extra DA.

chickelit said...

Ginger Baker, Carl Palmer, John Bonham. Those were good days.

Good riddance. Baker was the only drummer of that era who maligned other drummers. I blame the tragic circumstances of his father’s death — though he was hardly the only Briton affected in a like way. Roger Waters suffers from a similar affliction and continues to take it out on the rest of the world.

RIP

Iman said...

As a high school sophomore, I was lucky enough to see Cream (Spirit opened) in ‘68 at the Anaheim Convention Center... great seats and I still remember my body vibrating due to the heavy duty bottom of Baker’s drumming and Jack Bruce’s bass.

RIP.

NCMoss said...

Cream as in "cream of the crop".

Iman said...

The documentary mentioned in the first comment was “Beware Mr. Baker”, and it is of interest. The guy was a serious drug addict, not adverse to offering substances to his own children and a very talented drummer with a reverential love for Elvin Jones.

Le Stain du Poop said...

Check out his work with Masters of Reality. Has a great sense of humor too ("T-USA" a lament about the Yanks inability to make a good cup of tea, is awesome).

rightguy said...

My favorite rock drummers of that era had a swing feel to their playing : Ginger Baker, Bill Kreutzman, Ringo, Levon Helms, Charlie Watts... 50+ years later I can still listen to their records and savor the pure, fluid musicality.

I like Pink Floyd records for a lot of reasons, but when I listen to them today, I notice how square, plodding, and boring the rythm is. Robert Plant's drumming sounded huge - i.e. When the Levee Breaks- but in the words of Baker, "he couldn't swing a sack of concrete".

wholelottasplainin' said...

Tank said...
Amazing he lived that long. A great drummer- many learned from him. One thing they learned was long boring solos. About 98% of all drum solos are not worth listening to. But he was great as the driving force in the background.
**************

Frank Zappa once mocked the kinds of requests he would get from crowds during his concerts.

"Free Bird!"

"Stairway to Heaven!"

"Caravan", with a drum solo!"

Unknown said...

A talented man, and RIP.

But he was no Hal Blaine.

Limited blogger said...

Some of that interview had to be inspiration for Rob Reiner and Christopher Guest.

They're fucking drums, I bang on 'em.

eddie willers said...

Ginger Baker, Carl Palmer, John Bonham. Those were good days.

You must add Mr. Moon.

Bill Peschel said...

Prime example of brilliant asshole artists. Intensely jealous of Bonham and Moon, despite the fact they were equally brilliant in their own ways (saying this as an expert after seeing two YouTube vids describing their technique).

Of course, we have the traditional trashing of Ringo, despite the fact that the group would have broken up without him, and other drummers respected his skills.

(Short hot take: Ringo was a consistent, rock-steady drummer who didn't need to draw attention to his skills. For example, he did only one drum solo in his recording career, and that was because he was ordered to. He was the ultimate group supporter who gave his best no matter whose song it was. He also gave the band a sense of humor and contributed through his wit several song titles such as Hard's Days Night. During the end days, when he was so frustrated with everyone's antics, he announced he was quitting the group. This shocked the others into moderating their behavior for a bit to get him to return.)

Beasts of England said...

In the added video, Clapton is playing a 3-tone sunburst Telecaster - a very rare ‘color’ for a Tele. And quite collectible. I saw one just this morning online for about forty grand...

Danno said...

Saw this post a couple of hours ago. Immediately put on a YouTube audio of White House. Now back to comment.

Cream was one of the first albums my college roommate and I had in the dorm. Great times.

Danno said...

White Room.

Danno said...

In my case, it's not TDS.

Focko Smitherman said...

Yeah, that George Krupka was a hell of a drummer. (Sorry.) From the comment thread at the Guardian's obit: "Watched him single handedly start a riot at Glastonbury in 1981. Anyone could get a punch up going at, say, Reading in those days but it took a very specific set of interpersonal skills to get a field full of vegetarians angry enough to storm the stage. God bless him."

Roughcoat said...

Robert Plant's drumming sounded huge - i.e. When the Levee Breaks-

Dude ... seriously?

Earnest Prole said...

In the added video, Clapton is playing a 3-tone sunburst Telecaster - a very rare ‘color’ for a Tele. And quite collectible.

Steve Winwood plays the same guitar in a recent version of the same song with Clapton — I’d dig it up on youtube but linking it is hard on a phone.

Douglas said...

I'm wondering if Ann ever plays "Can't Find My Way Home" on her road trips. It's perfect trip music IMHO.

Ryan said...

Clapton sounds real good on rhythm guitar in the Blind Faith song, playing the Telecaster.

rightguy said...

RoughCoat: er I mean John Bonham, of course.

Roger Sweeny said...

There's Eric Clapton in back saying, "I'm not a front man." No, that would come later.