Remembering Ginger Baker

August 19, 1939 – October 06, 2019


A tribute to the rock and occasional jazz drummer

Drummer Ginger Baker died on October 6, 2019 at the age of 80.

While best known as arguably rock’s first superstar drummer, Baker also had a background in jazz.

Peter Baker (nicknamed Ginger due to his red hair) was born in Lewisham, South London on August 19, 1939.

He began on the drums when he was 15, and early in his career played with British trad jazz bands (with whom he made his debut recordings) before joining the blues and r&b band The Graham Bond Organisation.

Baker became immortal for his playing with the ultimate rock power trio, Cream (which also featured Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce) during 1966-68; the group frequently took long improvisations with Baker taking many fiery drum solos.

Personality conflicts (Baker could be a bit of a hot head) resulted in Cream breaking up after just two years; the drummer next played with Blind Faith and led Ginger Baker’s Air Force during 1970-71.

Baker became involved in World Music (particularly that from Africa) in the 1970s, was with Baker Guvitz Army during 1974-76, and was less active during the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually moving to South Africa.

In 1994 Baker organized a jazz trio that featured guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Charlie Haden, and during 2013-14 he led the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, a quartet that included tenor-saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis.

Baker stopped playing drums in early-2016 due to his declining health.

Here is Ginger Baker in 2012 being featured prominently at the Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert.

-Scott Yanow

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