Ginger Baker, one of the most brilliant, versatile and turbulent drummers in the history of British music, died at the age of 80.
His family had previously announced that he was seriously ill and asked fans to "keep him in your prayers". His Facebook page said he "died peacefully" on Sunday morning.
Baker was born in 1939 in Lewisham, south London, and grew up in the midst of the blitz; his father was killed in action in 1943. He started playing drums in the middle of his teens, remembering in 2009: "I had never sat behind a kit before, but I sat – and I could play! One of the musicians turned and said, "Damn, we have a drummer", and I thought, "Damn, I'm a drummer!" "
Early work came with jazz guitarist Diz Disley – who finished when an 18-year-old Baker set fire to a hotel while on tour in Europe – and with band leader Terry Lightfoot. He played the blues in Blues Incorporated – including guest appearances with a first incarnation of the Rolling Stones – and American R&B with the Graham Bond Organization, both alongside Jack Bruce on bass guitar.
Despite the considerable friction between Baker and Bruce, in 1966 the couple formed Cream with Eric Clapton, who had previously played with the Yardbirds and John Mayall. Cream helped define the psychedelic rock sound of the decade, with Baker bringing both a jazz sensibility – Toad, from the debut album Fresh Cream, introduces one of the first drum solos ever in rock – and a captivating style , using two bass drums, pointing towards the heavy metal.
Cream has sold over 15 million records worldwide and has had successes including Sunshine of Your Love, Strange Brew and White Room; three of their four albums reached the top five in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The band separated in 1968, releasing a last album in 1969. A meeting in 2005 ended with animosity, with Baker and Bruce shouting on stage in New York. In 1969, Baker and Clapton formed the short-lived band Blind Faith with Steve Winwood and Ric Grech, and this last couple joined Baker in his next project, the jazz-rock band Ginger Baker & # 39; s Air Force .
Baker moved to Nigeria in 1971 and founded the Batakota recording studio in Lagos, which housed local musicians and established stars (there Wings recorded part of Band on the Run). He performed with the Nigerian star Fela Kuti – "understands the African beat more than any other western", said drummer Tony Allen of Kuti – and continued to collaborate or perform with a wide range of musicians: Public Image Ltd, Hawkwind , hard rock the Baker-Gurvitz Army band and jazz artists Max Roach, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones. In 1994, he formed a jazz trio with Charlie Haden and Bill Frisell.
He had spells that lived in Italy, California, Colorado and South Africa and developed a passion for polo. In 2008, when he lived in South Africa, he was deceived by over 30,000 pounds by a bank employee whom he hired as a personal assistant. He also suffered from various health problems, including respiratory diseases and osteoarthritis, and underwent heart surgery opened in 2016. "God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and with the greatest pain possible", he said in 2009.
That wickedness perhaps included his infamous character – "I was a bit nasty – I had deliberately messed up the recording sessions with my character and gone crazy to a minimum," he said in 1970. He married four times – "If a plane went down and was a survivor, Ginger would be. The devil takes care of himself, "said first wife Elizabeth Ann Baker in 2009 – and used the heroine in and out of the middle of the years & # 39; 60: told the Guardian in 2013 that he had fallen back "something like 29 times".
A documentary, Beware of Mr Baker, was made about his life in 2012. He survived his three sons, Kofi, Leda and Ginette.
. (tagsToTranslate) Ginger Baker (t) Music (t) Pop and rock (t) Culture (t) Eric Clapton (t) Psychedelia