I imagine Ginger would have hated some of the stuff printed after his death on Sunday, can’t say I’ve read many obits but I’ll wager a few called him a rock drummer and included him in the trio of wild stickmen of the 60s/70s, Ginger, Bonzo and Moon.
All legends. All icons. But Ginger wasn’t impressed. He was always a jazz drummer in his mind while the other two were thumpers, with no swing.
Ginger wasn’t an easy man to get along with, if you watch the documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker”, you’ll see him in all his cantankerous glory.
Best known of course for The Cream with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, it’s probably a band that summed up Baker and his troubles. He was leading the Graham Bond Organisation, he wanted out, wasn’t getting along with Bond and had fired Bruce from the band, which Bruce hadn’t accepted leading to Ginger threatening the bassist with a knife. Ginger asked Clapton to join Ginger’s new outfit, Clapton said yes but only if Bruce joined on bass.
Ginger was stuck with Bruce again, which would lead to the break up of the group after just three years and four albums. With Ginger pissed off at Bruce’s volume on stage and writing credits not going to every member, but Bruce and his friend Pete Brown. Something Ginger was pissed off about ever after.
From Cream it was Blind Faith with Clapton, then Ginger Baker’s Air Force, before heading off into Africa to open a studio in Nigeria. After he scarpered from there he ended up in Italy then did some session stuff, before he appeared on one of my favourite albums of the 90s. “Sunrise on the Sufferbus” by Masters of Reality. With Ginger’s unique take on what separates us Brits from the Yanks. “The inability of Yanks to make a good cup of tea” on “T.U.S.A”.
He lived a life did Ginger. The heroin. The fights. The music… most importantly the music.