Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker
August 19, 1939 - October 6, 2019
Drummer Ginger Baker, best known as one third of Cream, died today. The news comes one week after Baker's family announced that the drummer was "critically ill" in the hospital. While it was reported that Baker was "hold his own" days later, Baker eventually passed away. Baker was 80 years old.
Born in Lewisham, South London, Baker earned his nickname Ginger given the red color of his hair. While athletic as a child, Baker took up drumming when he was 15 years old- taking lessons from British jazz drummer Phil Seamen. By 1963, he was a member of the Graham Bond Organisation- an R&B/jazz/rock band. The bassist for GBO was Jack Bruce. In 1966, Baker and Bruce left the band- joining up with former Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton. Together, the three musicians formed Cream- with the name referring to the fact that they were the "cream of the crop." In their two years together, Cream would released four albums- Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels of Fire (1968) and Goodbye (1969). The band would have hits with songs such as "I Feel Free," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Strange Brew" and "White Room." While the band would split in 1968, the trio would reunite in 1993 for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction and in May 2005 for a series of four shows at the Royal Albert Hall. This was followed by three gigs at the Madison Square Garden in October of that year.
Following Cream, Baker was involved in various different projects. In 1969, he and Clapton joined up with Traffic's Steve Winwood and Family's Ric Grech. This became the short lived supergroup Blind Faith, who released only one album in August 1969. In the early 1970s, Baker formed another short lived band- Ginger Baker's Air Force. During the early1970s, Baker stayed away from rock music. Instead, Baker experimented with jazz fusion and Afrobeat. From 1971-73, Baker spent time is Africa- which is documented in the Tony Palmer directed movie Ginger Baker in Africa. He would also collaborate with Nigerian musician Fela Kuti during this time.
By the mid 1970s, Baker returned to rock music- join brothers Adrian and Paul Gurvitz- best known for their work with short lived bands such as Gun and Three Man Army. With Baker, the Baker Gurvitz Army was formed. From 1974 to 1976, the band release three albums- with the band splitting after their manager died in a plane crash. In the early 1980s, Baker was briefly a member in space rock legends Hawkwind.
While respected as a musician, Baker was notorious for his temper- which is shown in the 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker. In recent years, Baker's health declined. In 2013, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease- coming from his years of smoking. In 2016, it was announced that Baker was recovering from open heart surgery. In his life, Baker was married four times. He is survived by three children- two daughters, Nettie and Leda (born 1960 and 1968) and a son, Kofi (born 1969).