Few men can say they influenced rock the way Ginger Baker did; it is with sadness that we report that the legendary drummer has passed today at the age of 80. The Music of Cream’s Kofi Baker, who is Ginger’s son, said in a statement “The other day I had a beautiful visit with my dad…we talked about memories and music and he’s happy that I’m keeping his legacy alive. Our relationship was mended and he was in a peaceful place. Thank you all for the kind messages and thoughts. I love my dad and will miss him always.” Kofi’s sentiments were echoed by his bandmates Will Johns and Malcolm Bruce who have helped the legend’s son carry on the legacy of his father’s band Cream.
It was in the summer of 1966 that the world saw the birth of the shooting star that would be Cream. Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce dissatisfied with the lack of blues-rock in the British pop-rock scene of the Beatles and Beach Boys decided to form the world’s first-ever supergroup. Cream was born from the old saying “cream of the crop” and boy was it ever right as all three members were masters of music. Clapton’s legendary guitar melodies and filthy blues riffs and Bruce’s thumping-grizzly basslines were supported by the solid rhythmic foundation that ginger provided, hammering away at his drums with bizarre elegance. The fiery redhead was never overshadowed by his bandmates, his presence was essential, his tough character admired, respected and rightfully feared. Will Johns recalls, “I have really fond memories of Ginger. When I was a kid, he would play games with me and was always a lot of fun when I would see him at Eric’s house. I can remember always asking Pattie, ‘where’s Ginger, where’s Ginger??’ He was cool and I loved him.”
Cream would go on to live and thrive for a short and stupendous two years in which they gifted masses songs like “Sunshine of your Love” and “Crossroads.” The group had brief reunions in 1993 and again in 2005. Cream set a standard for blues-rock artists, one upheld from Led Zeppelin to Fantastic Negrito. Ginger Baker may or may not have known in 1966 that he was co-founding a group that will forever be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Ginger’s post-Cream career included stints in acts such as Blind Faith and Masters of Reality; the drummer never failed to inject his style and personality wherever he practiced his craft.
Ginger had been battling illnesses that included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoarthritis and passed in a hospital in Canterbury surrounded by family and friends. The drummer leaves behind three children, a fantastic career and fond memories for all of us to cherish. Much like the band he helped birth, Baker’s flaming trajectory across the earth had to be seen to be believed, luckily for us, there are many to tell the stories. Enjoy the shooting star in full glory below via YouTube.