James Baker (musician)

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For other people named James Baker, see James Baker (disambiguation).
James Baker
James Baker at the 2011 Beaufort Street Festival.jpg
James Baker, Beaufort Street Festival, Perth, November 2011
Background information
Birth name James Lawrence Baker
Born (1954-03-07) 7 March 1954 (age 61)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Genres rock
Occupation(s) musician, drummer, songwriter
Instruments drums
Years active 1973–present
Associated acts The Geeks
The Victims
The Scientists
Hoodoo Gurus
Beasts of Bourbon
The Dubrovniks
Rockin' Hendy and the Roaring Mongrels
The Painkillers
Notable instruments
Black Pearl SLX drumkit with a custom brass snare and Zildian cymbals

James Lawrence Baker (born 7 March 1954) is a rock musician from Perth, Western Australia. He has drummed with, and was instrumental in the founding of several influential Australian bands including The Scientists, Le Hoodoo Gurus, Beasts of Bourbon, and The Dubrovniks.


Early days[edit]

Baker has named Ronnie Bond of The Troggs as the main influence on his drumming style. He first started drumming for a local Perth band, Black Sun (1973–1974), followed by The Slick City Boys (1974–1975).

"I was in a Beatles covers band. I saw Ringo Starr and I said I want to do that."- James Baker[1]

When he was 16 he travelled to the United States and England, where he was influenced by early live performances of the Ramones, Flamin' Groovies, The Dictators and Johnny Thunders. It was during these travels that he met Sid Vicious

"I met Sid Vicious on a bus in London in September 76. My first day in London. I had a New York Dolls t-shirt on and he came up and sat next to me and said how much he liked the New York Dolls. I told him I’d just seen Johnny Thunders in New York and he told me Johnny Thunders was apparently thinking of coming to England. Which he did. So he got that one right. He introduced himself as John Richie, which was his name not Sid Vicious."- James Baker[1]

He also almost auditioned for The Clash

"I met Joe Strummer and Mick Jones at a pub after a Damned gig. I had a Ramones t-shirt on and they came up to me and talked to me about that. They said they needed a drummer. But I hadn’t played for a year so." - James Baker[1]

Baker was a member in 1976 of protopunk band The Geeks, who are regarded as one of the first punk rock groups in Australia, although they played no gigs and did not release any recorded material until fairly recently. After Dave Faulkner joined, the band became known as The Victims. Baker and Faulkner co-wrote the band's first single, "Television Addict", which is widely regarded as a classic and has featured on several punk compilations.

The Scientists[edit]

Main article: The Scientists

In May 1978 Baker joined another punk rock band, The Invaders, joining Kim Salmon (guitar, vocals), Roddy Radalj (guitar, vocals) and Boris Sujdovic (bass), replacing the band's original drummer, John Rowlings. With the inclusion of Baker, the band was renamed The Scientists however with Sujdovic leaving in August 1978 the band didn't start playing again until January 1979 with Dennis Byrne on bass. The band released its first single in April 1979, "Frantic Romantic" b/w "Shake (Together Tonight)" on the DNA label. Radalj and Byrne left in April 1979, to be replaced by Ben Juniper (guitar) and Ian Sharples (bass). This lineup recorded the band's second release, The Scientists EP (released February 1980) and did two tours of Melbourne and Sydney, in December 1979 and February/March 1980.

Juniper left the band in May 1980 and Salmon, Baker and Sharples continued as a three-piece. The band broke up in January 1981 after recording their album, The Scientists (commonly referred to as The Pink Album), released in August 1981.

Hoodoo Gurus[edit]

Main article: Hoodoo Gurus

In January 1981, Baker joined Faulkner, Kimble Rendall and Roddy Radalj as founders of Sydney based band Le Hoodoo Gurus (aka Hoodoo Gurus).[2]

A chance meeting [by Dave Faulkner] with guitarists Kimble Rendall and Roddy Radalj at an end-of-1980 New Year's Eve party led to the formation of Le Hoodoo Gurus, with former Victims drummer James Baker rounding out the roster.

— Fred Mills, Harp Magazine correspondent, [3]

Rendall left in 1982, just prior to the release of "Leilani", and was replaced by Clyde Bramley (bass guitar, backing vocals) from Sydney bands The Hitmen and Super K.[2][4] Radalj was next to leave the band as he was unhappy with Rendall's leaving and Faulkner's greater influence on the band's direction.[3] He was replaced by ex-Fun Things guitarist Brad Shepherd, who had been Bramley's flatmate[5] and in The Hitmen and Super K.[4][6]

Gurus new line-up (Baker, Bramley, Faulkner and Shepherd) recorded the band's first album, Stoneage Romeos (1984).[2] with Baker co-writing several of the band's songs, but was sacked from the band in August 1984[1][4][7] before the album was released.

Hoodoo Gurus iconic status on the Australian rock scene was acknowledged when they were inducted into the 2007 ARIA Hall of Fame.[8][9]

Beasts of Bourbon[edit]

Main article: Beasts of Bourbon

Baker joined the Beasts of Bourbon in 1984, together with Tex Perkins, Spencer P. Jones (The Johnnys), Boris Sudjovic and Kim Salmon of The Scientists. The group were initially thrown together by vocalist Perkins to fulfill a booking his previous band, Tex Deadly and the Dum-Dums, could no longer make and began by playing together in small venues in Sydney. This lineup was featured on the band's first album, The Axeman's Jazz, recorded in 1984 in a single afternoon for one hundred dollars by Tony Cohen. Although the album became an underground success (a cover of "Psycho" being a hit on alternative radio), the band continued to be just a side project for its members until the original line-up fell apart in 1984 when the Scientists left Australia to tour overseas.

In 1985-86, Baker recorded vocals on a single, a cover of The Troggs’ "I Can’t Control Myself" with an original, "Born to Be Punched" on the B-side. It was credited to The James Baker Experience.

When both the Johnnys and the Scientists fell apart, however, the original line-up reunited in 1987, to record another album, Sour Mash in 1988. The swamp-rock of The Axeman's Jazz had given way to a fusion of blues-based pub rock and punk with great effect. Black Milk, recorded in 1990, expanded on this idea. The band grew particularly confident and powerful while touring Europe on the back of Sour Mash and grew in popularity. In 1991, Baker and Sujdovic left to be replaced by Brian Hooper and Tony Pola - the bassist and drummer of Kim Salmon's new band, The Surrealists.

The Dubrovniks and beyond[edit]

Main article: Dubrovniks

In 1988 Baker joined a new band, The Dubrovniks, with Roddy Radalj, Peter Simpson and Boris Sujdovic. The band's name was coined from the fact that Radalj and Sujdovic were both born in Dubrovnik, a town in Croatia. The band released several albums including, Dubrovnik Blues, Audio Sonic Love Affair, Chrome and Medicine Wheel. After they broke up in the 1994, following the release of the band's fourth album, with Baker returning to Perth.

On 10 February 1995 the original 1980s lineup of The Scientists, Salmon, Baker, Sharples and Juniper, reformed for a one-off show in Perth.

Baker's current projects are Rockin' Hendy (with Rik van der Velde - guitar, and Lou Boy - bass and vocals) and The Painkillers. Baker forming The Painkillers in May 2005 together with Joe Bludge on guitar and vocals.[10] The Painkillers have played support in Perth for bands such as The Fuzz, Little Birdy, The Panda Band, Brian Hooper, Pharaohs, and the Beasts of Bourbon. On 25 August 2005 The Painkillers released their debut album, Drunk on a Train on Blazing Strumpet Records, through Reverberation.[11] In 2010 James Baker also briefly played with Perth "stuporgroup" Potato Stars.

In 2006 Baker was inducted into the West Australian Music Industry Hall of Fame.[12]


Baker has been a member of the following bands:[13]

  • Black Sun (1973–1974)
  • The Slick City Boys (1974–1975)
  • The Geeks (1977)
  • The Victims (1977–1978)
    • "Television Addict" (1977)
    • No Thanks to the Human Turd (aka The Victims) (1978)
    • All Loud on the Western Front (1989)
  • The Scientists (1978–1982, 1988–1990)
    • "Frantic Romantic" (1979)
    • The Scientists EP (1981)
    • The Scientists (The Pink Album) (1981)
  • The Scientists (1995)
  • The Hoodoo Gurus (1983)
  • The Beasts of Bourbon (1983–1985, 1988–1990)
    • The Axeman's Jazz (1984)
    • Sour Mash (1988)
    • Black Milk (1990)
  • The James Baker Experience (1985–1986)
    • "I Can’t Control Myself" / "Born to be Punched" (1985)
  • The Eternal Teenagers (1986)
  • Legendary Stardust Cowboys (1986)
  • The Adorable Ones/The Dubrovniks (1986–1994)
    • "Fireball of Love / "If I Had a Gun" (April 1988)
    • "My Coo Ca Choo" / "Girls Go Maniac" (November 1988)
    • "Speedway Girls" / "Freezing Rain" (June 1989)
    • Dubrovnik Blues
    • "Love is on the Loose Tonight" (1990)
    • Audio Sonic Love Affair (1990)
    • "French Revolution" (1992)
    • Chrome (1992)
    • Medicine Wheel (1994)
  • Novakill (1998)
  • Rockin' Hendy (2000–present)
  • The Painkillers (2005–present)
    • Drunk on a Train (August 2006)

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Fox, Sylvester (23 May 2003). "Punk Without A Safety Pin". Groove Magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  2. ^ a b c Holmgren, Magnus; Georgieff, Didier; Hartung, Stephan. "Hoodoo Gurus". Passagen.se. Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Mills, Fred (January 2007). "Hoodoo Gurus: By My Guru". Harp Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  4. ^ a b c McFarlane, Ian (1999). Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop (doc). Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  5. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed (October 2001). "Interview with Brad Shepherd (excerpt)". HowlSpace – The Living History of Our Music (Ed Nimmervoll). White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd (Tom Denison). Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.  Note: Archived copy does not include access to full interview.
  6. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Brad Shepherd". Passagen.se. Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Hollow, Chris (3 February 2005). "Hoodoo Gurus + Brad Shepherd interview". ¡Tarantula!. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  8. ^ "ARIA Awards 2007: About Hall of Fame". ARIA Awards. Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  9. ^ Pope, Mark (7 May 2007). (PDF) "ARIA presents the 2007 ARIA Hall of Fame" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Retrieved 2008-01-22. [dead link]
  10. ^ Triple J Unearthed artist profile
  11. ^ Blazing Strumpet Records
  12. ^ West Australian Music Industry website
  13. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "James Baker". Passagen.se. Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2014.