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Monday, August 19, 2013
August 19: Ginger Baker, British drummer with Cream, Blind Faith and Ginger Baker's Air Force is 74-years-old today.
Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker was born 19 August 1939 in Lewisham, South London. Early on, Baker's drumming attracted attention for its flamboyance, showmanship and his use of two bass drums instead of the conventional single bass kick drum. He prefers being called a jazz drummer.
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."
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 with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce from 1966 until they disbanded in 1968.
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 1966 debut album Fresh Cream. (He is also noted for using a variety of other percussion instruments and for his application of African rhythms.)
He later joined the group Blind Faith with Clapton, Ric Grech and Steve Winwood. In 1970 Baker formed, toured and recorded with fusion rock group Ginger Baker's Air Force.
He lived in Nigeria from 1970 until 1976. Baker sat in for Kuti during recording sessions in 1971 and these were released by Regal Zonophone as Live! (Fela Kuti album). Fela also appeared with Ginger Baker on Stratavarious alongside Bobby Gass, (Bobby Tench) from The Jeff Beck Group.
Baker formed Baker Gurvitz Army in 1974 and recorded three albums with them before the band broke up in 1976. 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 lineup 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.
Baker's autobiography Hellraiser was published in 2009. In 2013 Baker toured with the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, a quartet comprising Baker, saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth and percussionist Abass Dodoo.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Baker as the third greatest drummer of all time.