On October 6th, Ginger Baker, who was one the first superstar rock drummers, died at the age 80 in England.
Both Baker’s Twitter and Facebook pages confirmed the news, with his family stating that the drummer had passed away that morning in a hospital. They also thanked everyone for all the “kind words” said about him in the past few weeks.
On September 25th, Baker’s family announced, also through Facebook, that the drummer was seriously ill and asked fans to keep him in their prayers. For many years, he had suffered from poor health as well as substance abuse.
Born Peter Edward Baker in 1939, ‘Ginger’ got his nickname because his red hair. Through a career that lasted more than 60 years, he played within a wide variety musical genres, which included not only many forms rock but also jazz and blues. He was known for his flamboyant and powerful performances and his hot temper.
He shot to fame in 1966 as a member Cream, along with guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, which many consider rock’s first supergroup.
On the band’s debut album, Baker performed one the most celebrated drum solos in rock on a song called “Toad.” It was one the first its kind.
Another innovation Baker is credited with is the use a pair bass drums, which were a trademark his hard-driving drumming style. Heavy metal, thrash, speed metal, and death metal drummers have been using the concept religiously (or, sacrilegiously) for decades.
After Cream broke up, Ginger and Clapton went on to form Blind Faith with singer Steve Winwood. After that group broke up as well, Baker performed in a pair his own bands: Baker Gurvitz Army and Ginger Baker’s Air Force. He also collaborated with a large number prominent artists over the years.
However, Baker’s long-standing addiction to heroin limited his opportunities. He was also notoriously difficult to work with, which was chronicled in a 2012 documentary called “Beware Mr. Baker”. The title came from a sign once posted on his property.