Oct 6, 2019

Remembering Cream's Ginger Baker

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker was born in London, England on August 19th 1939. The ginger haired teenage began playing drums by age 15 taking lessons from a well known English jazz drummer, Phil Seamen. 

After playing in a band with bassist Jack Bruce, the two recruited Eric Clapton & became one of rocks first supergroups; Cream.

The three piece Cream, blended hard rock, blues & psychedelic rock together forming a legendary eclectic fusion sound.. The band's debuted with Fresh Cream in 1966 & then their masterpiece Disraeli Gears in 1967, just in time for the Summer of Love & the psychedelic rock explosion. The album hit number 4 in the US & number 1 around the world. 

It featured the classics; Sunshine of Your Love, Strange Brew, SWLABR & Tales of Brave Ulysses as well as seven other great tunes. The psychedelic art work defined the era.  Bakers thunderous drums, along with Clapton's legendary guitars & Bruce's incredible bass, make Cream one of the greatest bands of all time, influencing generations of hard rock bands to follow.

Just two more albums followed, the double album Wheels of Fire, which became the first double LP to ever go platinum. It featured White Room, Born Under a Bad Sign, Politician & more was more bluesy than psychedelic. 

The second album was recorded live at the Filmore & featured Toad a 16:15 minute song that included Bakers long drum solon one the first ever to appear on a rock record.

Their last album was Goodbye, before the band broke up in 1969. They had actually broke up a year prior, due to bickering, showing each other up at live performances & the pressures of being a popular band with big egos. They were convinced to do a final album & farewell tour. Goodbye only had three new songs, including  I'm So Glad & the hit Badge which featured George Harrison playing guitar.

Cream would reunite in 2005 for four shows in London & three shows in Madison Square Garden, New York, which centerfieldmaz attended. It was awesome, as Cream was always one of my favotite bands.

After Cream, Baker managed to slip his way into Blind Faith, another supergroup featuring Clapton, Steve Winwood from Traffic & Ric Grech from Family. The band only recorded one album, another classic featuring songs like Cant Find My Way Back Home, Had to Cry today & a cover of Buddy Hollys Well Alright. The album  cover was controversial, as it featured a drawing of topless young girl, with a phallic symbol of an airplane in her hand, representing a girl growing into a woman.


After that Baker would form Ginger Bakers Air Force & play with them  on & off through his life. Baker did not like to be labeled a rock drummer, he felt it was not enough to define him. 

His use of double bass drums, along with the Who's Keith Moon & Jimi Hendrix Experience's Mitch Mitchell, inspired a genre of future Heavy Metal drummers. 

Everyone from Peter Criss, Neil Peart, John Bonham, Ian Paice, Alex Van Halen, Nick Mason, Bill Bruford, Stewart Copeland, Dave Lombardo, Danny Seraphine & Tommy Aldridge all refer to Baker as a key influence.

He had his demons, battling heroine addictions many times in his life, was known to have a very bad temper at times & was married four different times. 

In later years he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease & osteoarthritis. He had been critically ill since September & passed away on October 6th 2019 at age 80.

But the fondest of memories come from his music which Ginger Baker was one of the worlds greatest drummers ever. Long Live Ginger Baker!!




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