Happy Birthday Ginger Baker: Exploring Afrobeat With Fela Kuti

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Today is the 78th birthday of renowned drummer Ginger Baker. The man behind the kit for the legendary British power rock trio Cream has carved out a highly accomplished career since rising to fame in the early 1960s. The notoriously irascible percussionist has been involved in many collaborations with musicians from around the world and Saturday Stream today presents a Spotify Playlist focused on Baker’s interest in Afrobeat.

Following Cream’s disbandment, his participation in the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith and leading Ginger Baker’s Air Force, the drummer moved to Nigeria in 1970. For the next five years he studied local rhythms with legendary African musician, the late Fela Kuti, whom he first met and jammed with in the early-1960s at the World College of Music. During his time in Nigeria in the 70s, Baker recorded and toured with Kuti and his band The Africa ’70, filling-in for an ailing Tony Allen.

“I used to sit-in regularly with the band because people used to ask me to, especially Fela,” Baker said in a 1999 interview with Arthur magazine. “Fela and I were very, very good friends.”

Baker and Kuti’s time together in Nigeria produced several recordings which are presented in the playlist below. There are also bonus tracks from Ginger’s Afrobeat-influenced albums African Force which was issued in 2001 and African Force: Palanquin’s Pole from 2006. Stream the playlist here:

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