Ginger Baker

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Ginger Baker
Baker behind an elaborate drum kit
Ginger Baker in 2011
Background information
Birth name Peter Edward Baker
Born (1939-08-19) 19 August 1939 (age 75)
Lewisham, South London, England
Genres Jazz, blues rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, jazz fusion, afrobeat
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Drums, percussion, vocals, piano
Years active 1958–present
Labels Polydor, Warner Bros., Island, Universal, Atlantic
Associated acts Cream, Blind Faith, Blues Incorporated, The Graham Bond Organisation, Ginger Baker and Friends, Baker Gurvitz Army, Ginger Baker's Air Force, Hawkwind, Public Image Ltd., Atomic Rooster, Masters of Reality, Ginger Baker Trio, BBM, Fela Kuti
Website www.gingerbaker.com

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker (born 19 August 1939 in Lewisham, South London) is an English drummer, best known for his work with the rock band Cream. He is also known for his numerous associations with world music, mainly the use of African influences.[1] He has also had other collaborations such as with Blind Faith, Gary Moore, Hawkwind, Masters of Reality and Public Image Ltd.

Biography[edit]

Baker performing with Cream on the Dutch television program "Fanclub" in 1968

Baker formed and recorded with Ginger Baker's Energy and was involved in collaborations with Bill Laswell, jazz bassist Charlie Haden, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and pioneering afro beat musician Fela Kuti. He was also member of Hawkwind, Atomic Rooster, Masters of Reality, and Public Image Ltd..

Baker gained fame as a member of the Graham Bond Organisation and then as a member of the rock band Cream from 1966 until they disbanded in 1968.[2] He later joined the group Blind Faith. In 1970 Baker formed, toured and recorded with fusion rock group Ginger Baker's Air Force.

He lived in Nigeria from 1970 until 1976.[3] Baker sat in for Kuti[4] during recording sessions in 1971 and these were released by Regal Zonophone as Live! (Fela Kuti album) (1971)'[5] Fela also appeared with Ginger Baker on Stratavarious (1972) alongside Bobby Gass,[6] a pseudonym for Bobby Tench[1] from The Jeff Beck Group. Stratavarious was later re-issued as part of the compilation Do What You Like.[7] Baker formed Baker Gurvitz Army in 1974 and recorded three albums with them before the band broke up in 1976.

In the early 1980s, Baker joined Hawkwind for an album and tour, and in the mid-1980s was part of John Lydon's Public Image Ltd.

In 1992 Baker played with the hard-rock group Masters of Reality on the album Sunrise on the Sufferbus, yielding the top-ten hit "She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On)".

In 1994 he formed The Ginger Baker Trio and joined the bassist known as Googe in Masters of Reality formed by producer, singer and guitarist Chris Goss.

In 1994 Baker joined BBM, a short-lived power trio with the line-up of Baker, Jack Bruce and Irish blues rock guitarist Gary Moore. On 3 May 2005 Baker was reunited with Eric Clapton and Bruce for a series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden. The London concerts were recorded and released as Royal Albert Hall London May 2–3–5–6 2005 (2005),[8] In a Rolling Stone article written in 2009, Bruce is quoted as saying: "It's a knife-edge thing between me and Ginger. Nowadays, we're happily co-existing in different continents [Bruce lives in Britain, Baker in South Africa] ... although I was thinking of asking him to move. He's still a bit too close".[9]

Baker on 21 March 1980, Zemun, Serbia, Yugoslavia

Baker lived in Parker, Colorado, a rural suburb of Denver, between 1993 and 1999, in part due to his passion for polo. Baker not only participated in polo events at the Salisbury Equestrian Park, but he also sponsored an ongoing series of jam sessions and concerts at the equestrian centre on weekends.[10]

In 2008 a bank clerk, Lindiwe Noko, was charged with defrauding him of almost one-half million Rand ($60,000).[11] The bank clerk claimed that it was a gift after she and Baker became lovers. Not so, insisted Baker, who explained, "I've a scar that only a woman who had a thing with me would know. It's there and she doesn't know it's there".[12] Noko was convicted of fraud and in October 2010 was sentenced to three years "correctional supervision" (a type of community service).[13]

Baker's autobiography Hellraiser was published in 2009.[1]

Baker has COPD, a lung disease.

In 2013 and 2014 Baker toured with the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, a quartet comprising Baker, saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth and percussionist Abass Dodoo.[14]

In 2014 Baker signed with record label Motéma Music to release a new jazz album. The album will feature members of the aforementioned quartet he toured with in 2013.[15]

Documentaries[edit]

In 2012 the documentary film Beware Of Mr. Baker of Ginger Baker's life by Jay Bulger had its world premiere at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas where it won the grand jury award for best documentary feature.[16][17] The film was nominated for the Grierson Award at the 2012 British Film Institute Awards.[citation needed]

Ginger Baker in Africa (1971) documents Baker's drive from Algeria to Nigeria (across the Sahara desert by Range Rover), where in the capital, Lagos, he sets up a recording studio and jams with Fela Kuti.

Style[edit]

Baker cited Phil Seamen, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones and Baby Dodds as influences on his style.[18]

Baker's drumming attracted attention for its flamboyance, showmanship and his use of two bass drums instead of the conventional single bass drum (following a similar set-up used by Louie Bellson during his days with Duke Ellington). Although a firmly established rock drummer and praised as "Rock's first superstar drummer",[19] he prefers being called a jazz drummer.[20]

While at times performing in a similar way to Keith Moon from The Who, Baker also employs a more restrained style influenced by the British jazz groups he heard during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In his early days as a drummer, he performed lengthy drum solos, the best known being the five-minute drum solo "Toad" from Cream's debut album Fresh Cream (1966). He is also noted for using a variety of other percussion instruments and for his application of African rhythms. He would often emphasise the flam, a drum rudiment in which both sticks attack the drumhead at almost the same time, giving a heavy thunderous sound.

Legacy[edit]

Baker's style influenced many drummers, including John Bonham,[21] Peter Criss,[22] Neil Peart,[23] Stewart Copeland,[24] Ian Paice,[25] Tommy Aldridge,[26] Bill Bruford,[27] Alex Van Halen,[28] Danny Seraphine[29] and Nick Mason.[30]

AllMusic has described him as "the most influential percussionist of the 1960s" and stated that "virtually every drummer of every heavy metal band that has followed since that time has sought to emulate some aspect of Baker's playing".[19] Neil Peart has said: "His playing was revolutionary – extrovert, primal and inventive. He set the bar for what rock drumming could be. [...] Every rock drummer since has been influenced in some way by Ginger – even if they don't know it".[23]

Discography[edit]

Ginger Baker's Handprints at the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame

The Storyville Jazz Men and The Hugh Rainey Allstars[edit]

  • Storyville Re-Visited (1958) also featuring Bob Wallis and Ginger Baker

Graham Bond Organisation[edit]

  • Live at Klooks Kleek (1964)
  • The Sound of 65 (1965)
  • There's a Bond Between Us (1965)

Cream discography[edit]

Blind Faith discography[edit]

Ginger Baker's Air Force discography[edit]

Baker Gurvitz Army discography[edit]

  • Baker Gurvitz Army Janus (1974)
  • Elysian Encounter Atco (1975)
  • Hearts on Fire Atco (1976)
  • Flying In and Out of Stardom Castle (2003)
  • Greatest Hits GB Music (2003)
  • Live in Derby Major league productions (2005)
  • Live Revisited (2005)

Solo discography[edit]

  • Ginger Baker at His Best (1972)
  • Stratavarious Polydor (1972)
  • Ginger Baker & Friends Mountain (1976)
  • Eleven Sides of Baker Sire (1977)
  • From Humble Oranges CDG (1983)
  • Horses & Trees Celluloid (1986)
  • No Material live album ITM (1987)
  • Middle Passage Axiom (1990)
  • Unseen Rain Day Eight (1992)
  • Going Back Home Atlantic (1994)
  • Ginger Baker's Energy ITM (1992)
  • Ginger Baker The Album ITM (1995)
  • Falling off the roof Atlantic (1995)
  • Do What You Like Polydor (1998)
  • Coward of the County Atlantic (1999)
  • African Force (2001)
  • African Force: Palanquin's Pole (2006)
  • Why? (2014)

With Fela Kuti

Other[edit]

Instruments and sound[edit]

Baker's current kit is made by Drum Workshop. He used Ludwig drums until the late 1990s. All of his cymbals are made by Zildjian; the 22" rivet ride cymbal and the 14" hi-hats he currently uses are the same ones he used during the last two Cream tours in 1968.[31]

Drums[edit]

1960s
  • 20"x 14" Bass (right foot)
  • 22"x 14" Bass (left foot)
  • 12x8" & 13x9" top toms
  • 14x14" & 16x14" floor toms
  • 1940's 6.5" x 14" black finished Leedy Broadway wood Snare

Snare tuned high, toms and bass tuned low

In May 1968 Baker purchased a new Ludwig drum kit with 20"x14" & 22"x14" bass drums, a 14"x5" metal Super-Sensitive snare and the same-sized toms for Cream's farewell tour.

Current drums
  • 10"x 8",12" x 9",13" x 10",14" x 12", Toms on front rack stands
  • 20"x 14" & 22" x 14" Bass drums
  • 13"x 5,5" DW Craviotto Snare
  • 14"x 6,5" Leedy Snare (Spare)
  • DW 5000 Accelerator Bass Drum Pedals
  • 4 DW cymbal stands
  • 1 DW 5000 HiHat Stand
  • 1 DW Snare Stand
  • Zildjian Ginger Baker 7a sticks

Cymbals[edit]

1963–present made by Zildjian[32]

1960s
  • 16" crash left upper
  • 13" crash left lower
  • 14" hi-hats left
  • 20" ride right front lower
  • 14" crash right front upper
  • 22" rivet crash/ride right back upper
  • 18" crash right back lower
  • 8" which Ginger once called a "joke effect" splash right of middle
Current
  • 16" K Dark Thin Crash
  • 15" A New Beat Hi Hats
  • 8" A Splash
  • 8" A Fast Splash
  • 10" A Splash
  • 8" A Splash
  • 13" Top Hat
  • 22" A Series Medium Ride Rivet Ride
  • 18" China
  • 18" A Medium Crash
  • Cow bells front right

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Baker, Ginger and Ginette. Hellraiser The autobiography of the World's Most Famous Drummer. John Blake Publishing. 
  2. ^ Ginger Baker interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  3. ^ Jay Babcock (2 November 2009). "GINGER BAKER on Fela Kuti (1999) | Arthur Magazine". Arthurmag.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Dougan, John. "Fela Ransome-Kuti". allmusic.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Ginger Baker. Live with Fela Kuti". allmusic.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Stratavarious". allmusic.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Ginger Baker compilations". allmusic.com. 
  8. ^ "Cream, The Royal Albert Hall London May 2–3–5–6 2005 album". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-02-13-10. 
  9. ^ "The Devil and Ginger Baker". www.rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2009-290-08. 
  10. ^ Hooper, Joseph. "Harmonic Convergence? Ginger Baker's Crazy Story". The New York Observer. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Bank clerk defrauds drummer". news24.com. 31 August 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008. 
  12. ^ "Cream drummer may flash ginger nuts in court". The Register. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2008. 
  13. ^ Laing, Aislinn (20 October 2010). "Ginger Baker's assistant avoids jail over theft". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion". The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ Murphy, Mekado (14 March 2012). "'Beware of Mr. Baker' and 'Gimme the Loot' Win Grand Jury Prizes at SXSW". New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Hann, Michael (15 May 2013). "Meeting Ginger Baker: an experience to forget". theguardian.com. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "Ginger Baker interview November 2010". retrosellers.com. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Ginger Baker". allmusic.com. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  20. ^ Baker, Ginger (2006). Cream: Classic Artists (DVD). Image Entertainment, Inc. 
  21. ^ Hugh Jones (30 July 1998). "Zeppelin In Jazzland: Their Jazz Influences". oldbuckeye.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "Peter Criss Interview 8/5/97". kissasylum.com. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Jay Bulger (20 August 2009). "The Devil and Ginger Baker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Stewart Copeland: Interview". effingham.net. July 1997. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Ian Paice: Q&A". stuff.co.nz. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Interview with Tommy Aldridge". mikedolbear.com. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  27. ^ "Interview:Bill Bruford (Yes,King Crimson,Genesis,Earthworks)". hit-channel.com. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Ken Micallef (15 January 2008). "Alex Van Halen: Bashing and Crashing In the Here and Now". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Danny Seraphine: Interview 1997". chicago-web.net. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Phil Sutcliffe (July 1995). "The 30 Year Technicolor Dream". Mojo Magazine. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  31. ^ "Ginger Baker's drum kit". ginger-baker.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  32. ^ "Ginger Baker Artist Page". zildjian.com. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 

References[edit]

  • Baker, Ginger and Ginette. Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World's most Famous Drummer. John Blake Publishing (2009). ISBN 978-1-84454-817-0

External links[edit]