Ginger Baker with Cream in 2005
Photo: Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty Images
Ginger Baker, Iconic Drummer & Cream Co-Founder, Dead At 80
Yesterday, Oct. 6, groundbreaking British drummer Ginger Baker, who performed with Eric Clapton in Cream and Blind Faith, passed away at age 80. The news was confirmed by his family via a post (shared below) on his official Twitter account. On Aug. 19, he celebrated his 80th birthday, and on Sept. 25 his family tweeted that he was "critically ill in [the] hospital."
A lifelong musician who set the standard for rock drumming, in 1993 Baker was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Cream, whose third member was the late Jack Bruce. In 2006, the dynamic trio also received Recording Academy's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks.
— Ginger Baker (@GingerBDrums) October 6, 2019
Back in 1966, Baker, Clapton and Bruce, already notable musicians in their own right, banded together in London to form one of the first-ever supergroups, Cream. The released three powerful classic rock albums during their time together, ending with the highly successful Wheels Of Fire in 1968.
That same year, they would be nominated for Best New Artist at the 11th GRAMMY Awards, embark on a farewell tour and officially disband, at the height of the group's fame. After Cream was no more, in 1969 Clapton and Baker, along with Steve Winwood and Ric Grech, formed another short-lived supergroup, Blind Faith. Baker would go on to play with a variety of other artists around the world, including Fela Kuti and his own Ginger Baker's Air Force, wowing audiences and fellow musicians with his passionate drumming.
As The New York Times put it, Baker "was an architect of rock drumming, spilling across tom-toms with both power and nuance. His work in the 1960s with the bands Cream and Blind Faith made him a defining figure of many basic rock band concepts: the 'power trio,' the 'supergroup,' the 'drum solo,' 'jamming,' 'double-kick drumming' and—much to his trademark chagrin—an early thruway for 'heavy metal.'"
He is survived by his wife, Kudzai Baker, and his three children (from his first marriage to Liz Finch), Nettie Baker, Leda Baker and Kofi Baker. He is remembered by his family and the many fellow groundbreaking musicians he played with. His influence will be felt not only in the unforgettable music he directly contributed to, but also in the infinite number of artists and drumming techniques he helped influenced.
Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer. pic.twitter.com/tZg3IGwP4Z
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) October 6, 2019
Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. We worked together on the 'Band on the Run' album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul pic.twitter.com/Rne4tn6A2i
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) October 6, 2019