Legendary Cream Drummer Ginger Baker Dead at 80
A brief statement on Baker's social media page Sunday (Oct. 6) revealed, "We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words to us all over the past weeks."
Ginger Baker had suffered a number of health setbacks over the years. He underwent open heart surgery in 2016, also suffering swollen legs and feet after a fall that same year. Baker also claimed in 2013 that smoking had given him chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while degenerative osteoarthritis saddled the drummer with chronic back pain.
Baker was born in Lewisham, South London in 1939. His big break as a musician came in 1966 when he founded the band Cream with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. Their union was brief but fruitful, as they issued four albums over a two year period, yielding such classic hits as "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love." Though their run was brief, their impact was massive, with the group gaining Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993. In 2006, the band received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.
After Cream's run ended, Bruce was part of another well-known late '60s supergroup, continuing to play with Eric Clapton in Blind Faith. The group's other members included Traffic's Steve Winwood and Ric Grech. Together, Blind Faith released a 1969 self-titled album which generated the classic track "Can't Find My Way Home."
Kofi Baker, Ginger's son and a fellow drummer, stated, "The other day I had a beautiful visit with my dad...we talked about memories and music and he's happy that I'm keeping his legacy alive. Our relationship was mended and he was in a peaceful place. Thank you all for the kind messages and thoughts. I love my dad and will miss him always."
Will Johns, a nephew of Eric Clapton, recalled, "I have really fond memories of Ginger. When I was a kid, he would play games with me and was always a lot of fun when I would see him at Eric's house. I can remember always asking Pattie, 'where's Ginger, where's Ginger??' He was cool and I loved him."
Malcolm Bruce, son of the late Jack Bruce, added, "Much love and peace to Ginger's family and respect to him. He leaves an incredible and innovative legacy. He always explored across the boundaries of creativity, collaborating with musicians from other cultures before the term 'world music' was adopted by others, and had a truly musical ability and a natural sense of what was true and beautiful. Rest in peace. It has been an honour to know you!"
Steve Winwood, Ginger's bandmate in Blind Faith, stated, "A very sad loss, and my condolences to his family and friends. A loss also for his contribution to music. He was well-grounded in jazz from very early on, and later managed to combine this with African and rock music to create his own inimitable style of playing."
He continued, "I was lucky to play with him in Ginger Baker’s Air Force, and to meet and work with such luminaries as Phil Seamen, Harold McNair and Graham Bond. And also in Blind Faith with Eric Clapton and Rick Grech. Although his appointment was very unorthodox (he showed up on the doorstep and said, 'Here I am') - he made a great contribution to the Blind Faith album which has withstood the test of time. Beneath his somewhat abrasive exterior, there was a very sensitive human being with a heart of gold. He’ll be missed."
Post Blind Faith, Baker founded Ginger Baker's Air Force and issued a number of solo albums. He also appeared on albums from Fela Kuti, Hawkwind, Public Images LTD, Masters of Reality and others.
Cream, “Sunshine of Your Love”
Cream, “White Room”
Blind Faith, “Can’t Find My Way Home”
Ginger Baker Drum Solo
The tributes for Baker have started popping up on social media. See some of the comments below and we'll continue to update as more come in.
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