Ginger Baker, the highly influential and irrepressible drummer, who gave the backbeat to bands such as Cream and Blind Faith not to mention adventurous side projects, died today. He was 80. The news was posted to his social media account today, where his family announced that he’d “passed away peacefully in hospital this morning.” No cause of death was given. The family had posted on September 25 that Baker was critically ill in the hospital.
Born Peter Edward Baker in Lewisham, South London in 1939, red hair not withstanding (hence the nickname Ginger), the drummer was a fiery tour-de-force on the drumkit, one of the first of his peers, starting and ultimately trailblazing in a late 1960s electric blues boon that found him toe to toe with other contemporaries, like the equally incendiary Keith Moon, Carl Palmer, Mitch Mitchell, Ian Paice, and John Bonham.
A new forthcoming documentary about drummer Ginger Baker, entitled Beware of Mr. Baker, is on the cinematic horizon, and it shows the former Cream and Blind Faith drummer at all his peak highs and valley lows.
You can watch the trailer below, in which percussive luminaries like Rush’s Neil Peart and The Police’s Stewart Copeland wax poetic about Baker, citing him as pretty much the archetype of modern rock and roll drumming.
Baker remains one of the bright lights of the late 1960s wave of British rock and roll. Like contemporaries of the time Keith Moon (The Who) and Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Ginger Baker attacked his drum set with a rhythmic fervor, utilizing a double bass expansive drum set which he played like a lead instrument, making full use of his mounted and floor toms, and adding a thunderous back beat to whatever lineup he was playing with, Cream especially, which brought him and fellow band members – Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton – dizzying success.
Blind Faith, the self-titled only official release by the classic rock supergroup Blind Faith, is now available on MP3 format from Amazon this month for only $5. (The CD is available for $7.96).
Released in 1969, this one-off supergroup release, consisting of ex-Cream bandmates Ginger Baker and one Eric Clapton and British blue-eyed soul singer/piano player Steve Winwood, who had been in The Spencer Davis Group prior to this collaboration, created a memorable six-song record which musically endures to this very day. Great crossroads musically for the members of the group, who went on to other projects of varying success, Clapton with his own smashing solo career and Winwood, who formed the Blind Faith style-Traffic. This album is a largely successful venture, nice bright and punchy arrangements throughout, breezy rock and roll in a sense, backbeated by the rebellious attack of Baker. “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Well All Right,” the wonderful “Sea of Joy,” the spiritually uplifting “Presence of the Lord,” and “Do What You Like” in which Baker has a field day, his tour-de-force in way; fresh off of the split from Cream, he’s still in his element a thousand fold. So are the rest of the group. Great album by a band which can only spark the question “What Could Have Been?” if Blind Faith had stayed together, instead of disbanding after its release.
Browse the main sale page to see all 100 albums on sale for only $5 each in MP3 format through the end of September 2012.