Drummer Ginger Baker 1939 – 2019

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Cream drummer Ginger Baker died at the age of 80 on Sunday at a hospital in England. His death was confirmed in a note shared on his social media feeds. “Dad passed away peacefully,” Ginger’s daughter Nettie Baker told CNN in a statement. “He was in no pain and had recently been able to see and speak to his children, close family and special friends.” Baker had been hospitalized for over a week and a note from his family posted on September 25 advised the world he was critically ill.

Peter Edward “Ginger” Baker was born on August 19, 2019 in the London borough of Lewisham. Ginger started playing drums as a teenager and was a member of The Graham Bond Organisation in the early-1960s. The R&B/jazz outfit also featured bassist Jack Bruce, who would go on to co-found Cream with Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton in 1966. Disputes between Jack and Ginger would bring an early end to Cream in 1968. However, the group’s three-year tenure produced such iconic songs as “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “White Room,” “Badge” and “I Feel Free.” Cream set the template for power trios, released four albums and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993. A brief reunion in 2005 included four shows at Royal Albert Hall in London and three at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Baker and Clapton followed the breakup of Cream by forming Blind Faith with bassist Ric Grech and multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood. Blind Faith famously made their debut in London’s Hyde Park on June 7, 1969 and released their lone album, a self-titled effort, the next month. The quartet didn’t make it to the end of 1969 before parting ways.

Ginger’s next move was the formation of Ginger Baker’s Air Force with Winwood, Grech, Jeanette Jacobs, Denny Laine, Phil Seaman, Alan White, Chris Wood, Graham Bond, Remi Kabaka and Harold McNair. The group released two albums and underwent a number of lineup changes between late-1969 and 1970. Baker then moved to Nigeria, where he studied Afrobeat music with Fela Kuti. Baker also co-founded the Baker Gurvitz Army, a band that lasted three years.

The drummer eventually landed in Italy, where he spent the early part of the 1980s. Among other musical activities for Baker was a short tenure in Hawkwind, performances with metal act Masters Of Reality and the formation of The Ginger Baker Trio. Ginger followed Cream’s reunion by putting out a memoir in 2009 and performing with various acts through 2016 at which point he underwent open heart surgery and stopped touring.