When Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood started working on a project to follow their respective bands Cream and Traffic, the former Slowhand colleague Ginger Baker was not part of their plans.
This did not fit Baker's feelings on the subject, and when he discovered that the couple was working together at the beginning of 1969, he was determined to be part of it. The result: Blind Faith was almost doomed before they started.
The notoriously conflicting drummer read about Clapton and Winwood's activities in NME. The musicians' newspaper continued to report that the couple was throwing ideas into Winwood's cottage and that no other band members had been confirmed. It was enough for Baker to drive home, get behind the battery of Jim Capaldi, the drummer of Traffic, and start playing.
"Musically, Stevie and I went wonderfully together," Baker recalled later. "He was one of the greatest musicians I've ever worked with. What I didn't know then was that Eric would probably have preferred to work with Jim Capaldi. It's a curious thing with me and Eric: I consider him the closest thing to a brother, but we have always had trouble talking about personal things ".
"Steve and I were at the cottage smoking joints and jams when we were surprised by a knock on the door," Clapton wrote in his memoir. "It was Ginger. Somehow he understood what we were doing and tracked us down. Ginger's appearance scared me because I felt that suddenly we were a band, and with that the whole machine [manager Robert] Stigwood and the hype that had surrounded the Cream would come. "
"I had to convince Eric to let Ginger in," said Winwood Mojo after. "We had already played together and he was a person who I respected a lot as a drummer and I liked working with him. Only then I realized how much Cream had been built around the interaction of Ginger and Eric. I knew that Ginger did serious drugs but I didn't I realized how destructive it could be, because I had never met it before. "
Listen to "Had to Cry Today" by Blind Faith
Regardless of this, Baker's arrival cemented the band's direction and bassist Ric Grech from the family band started working. The name "Blind Faith" was Clapton's suggestion – perhaps a suggestion for his mentality. A first session with producer Chris Blackwell provided a clue as to how things could go.
After a bad start, Denny Lane from Moody Blues arrived. "We all started playing together with him and he completely improved the mood," Baker recalled. "That day we had a fantastic jam but Blackwell didn't bother to record it. I blew it up and Jimmy Miller took over the next day."
The explosion was remembered as something more significant by an eyewitness, DJ Jeff Dexter, who said: "If the tape that had forgotten to turn on the machine had entered the studio, Baker would have ripped it off; limb. After about five minutes there were girls crying and people were leaving the studio to get away from him. It was as if the room was reverberating with it. "
The homonymous album by Blind Faith, which would also be their only release, was well received but accompanied by controversy on its cover. When the group left for the tour, things went very quickly for the worse.
When they arrived in the United States, Winwood recalled: "I had begun to understand what was Ginger's problem and I saw why Eric was opposed to having him in the group". In addition to personal issues, the identities of the previous bands proved to be too overwhelming. "Ginger played a drum solo and they thought it was Cream, so we launched an old Cream song," said Winwood. "Then I inserted a song of Traffic and the identity of the band was killed to death. If you have 20,000 people out there and you know you just have to play a song to stand up, you do it. We were just human. "
Both he and Clapton had decided it was over before they returned to the UK, and they separated without even discussing it. Clapton claimed to have "left the Yardbirds because of success and Cream ended as a direct result of his false success, or what seemed to be a successful hypocritical form. So with Blind Faith, I didn't want to deal with success. I wanted to be accepted as a musician. "
Listen "I can't find my way home" by Blind Faith
The following year, Baker – who was 31 at the time – said he regretted that he and his old colleague could not communicate better. "He never explained, for example, that he wanted everything to be a much simpler affair than Cream had been," the drummer reflected.
"I've always had an ego for my playing, but I've never been a selfish person," he said. "I've always believed in cooperative bands and I've been working on that scene for years. But I'm afraid it won't work. People's personalities always intrude. Cream was successful, as I knew it would be. Blind Faith was simply a logical progression from that. "
He said he felt "bitter" about the collapse of the band and so "destroyed" by the tour that he needed two months off. "I am no longer a very sociable person," he revealed. "I used to be – when I was a young, green guy. I have always trusted and I have thought of everyone. It took a few years and some unhappy experiences to learn that in reality it is better to trust only yourself and not other human beings ".
Baker added at the time that he expected to retire from the battery within five years. "Afterwards I will have nothing left to give physically," he explained. "I use both feet the way I play and, to be honest, it's shocking. After about 35 years I won't be able to continue, even if I want to." He predicted that he would then head to a remote Scottish island with his family and would pursue non-musical art projects.