Cream drummer Baker was among the world’s greatest drummers – and proud of it
Ginger Baker co-founded Cream with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton.
Cream co-founder Ginger Baker, who has died aged 80, was once acknowledged to be the best drummer in the world.
In an article on his website, the superstar is reported to have agreed, and said with a smile: “There aren’t many drummers who can get anywhere near me.”
Born in Lewisham, south London, shortly before the Second World War, Peter Edward Baker was nicknamed Ginger for his red hair, and started playing the drums at the age of 15.
His father, who was a bricklayer, became a lance corporal in the war and died in action in 1943.
In the 1960s, Baker took lessons from Phil Seamen, one of the leading British jazz drummers.
He gained early fame as a member of the Graham Bond Organisation, a British jazz, rhythm and blues group, which formed in 1963.
But he gained superstardom a few years later, after co-founding the rock band Cream in 1966 with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton.
The band became known for its blues, psychedelic rock and hard rock, releasing four albums before disbanding, with a farewell concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1968.
Baker’s individual style was known for its blend of jazz with African rhythms, as well as his showmanship. He performed lengthy drum solos, notably in the Cream song Toad.
He later joined groups Blind Faith, which lasted for one American tour and an album, and 10-piece group Air Force, which suffered a similar fate.
In 1973, Baker decided to set up a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria. Paul McCartney and Wings recorded their Band On the Run album at the studio.
But after many years, the studio stopped recording.
Baker was reunited with Clapton and Bruce in 2005 for a series of Cream concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden.