19.08. – Happy Birthday !!! Considered one of the greatest drummers of all time, Ginger Baker played with the bands Cream and Blind Faith. He is known for using two bass drums in his kit.
In 1962, Baker joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, followed by the Graham Bond Organisation in 1963. It was here that hostilities first developed between Baker and bass player Jack Bruce. The two became known for sabotaging each other’s instruments and fighting on stage, and Bruce was ultimately forced out of the band.
Baker and Winwood went on to form the fusion band Ginger Baker’s Air Force in 1970. That same year, Baker suffered a near-fatal overdose—on the night his friend Jimi Hendrix died—and he decided to leave the music scene to get clean. He went to Lagos, Nigeria, set up a music studio and learned to play polo. Baker’s experience in Africa is documented in the 1971 documentary Ginger Baker in Africa. He made enemies there, and was ultimately forced out of Nigeria by his business partners. He sold his studio at a loss, and with little cash left, returned to London and started selling cocaine.
In L.A., Baker intended to become an actor. He had little success in the industry, but he married for the third time. His stint in L.A. was short-lived; after he settled a lawsuit with his recording company over royalties, he moved to Colorado in 1993 to raise polo ponies, the same year that he and his Cream bandmates were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Friends called Baker’s work with polo ponies his “new expensive habit,” and he soon found himself broke again. When he encountered problems with the IRS in the late 1990s, he sold his ranch and moved to South Africa, ultimately settling in the wine country of Tulbagh.
In 2009, Baker published his autobiography, Ginger Baker: Hellraiser, which he called an attempt to set the record straight. In it, he also announced that he has a degenerative spine condition and emphysema. The following year, he married Kudzai Machokoto, a Zimbabwean woman 42 years his junior, who had been helping to take care of him.
A documentary about Baker’s life, Beware of Mr. Baker, debuted at South by Southwest in 2012.
A THUNDER of blues in a church hall complete with Brownies and caretakers was the bizarre setting for the first tentative creations of the Cream — Britain’s most exciting new group, featuring star instrumentalists Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton.
The group are feverishly rehearsing for their debut this weekend at the sixth national jazz and blues festival at Windsor.
Fans all over the country are excitedly looking forward to their first chance to hear the fiery three, who built tremendous reputations when they were sidemen with other groups. Eric with the Yardbirds and John Mayall, Ginger with Graham Bond, and Jack with Bond and Manfred Mann.
With the eyes of thousands of fans, and rival groups upon them, and the burning of boats behind them, how does Cream feel now?
“N e r v o u s very nervous,” said Eric Clapton, sideboards bristling, guitar slung at the hip.
For rehearsal the trio were using the minimum of equipment, but still managed to produce enough sound to deafen Brownies and caretakers and rock the church hall to its foundations. “I’m only using snare and bass drums,” said Ginger. “BUt with the full kit I’ll have seven drums, including two bass drums.’
“We’ve only here” added Eric, “So you can imagine what it’s going to sound like with full ampilfication and Ginger’s tom toms as well.”
The boys stood around in a sea of cigarette ends and prepared to run through a few numbers. Ginger, sporting a villainOUs looking beard, crouched over his drums, stool in its lowest possible position and right hand top cymbal sloping like a 1 in 2 hill.
Jack, wearing brown lace-up boots and a harmonica harness gripped his bass guitar for Eric to count them in.
Eric, wearing white bell-bottomed trousers, paused to shout i few coarse cries at some girl fans hanging about outside — not Brownies — then counted in the first explosion.
Eric and Jack sang in harmony, Ginger rocked, and Jack blew unison harmonica with Eric’s guitar riff. It was a frightening sound. They only played a few choruses of each number, with breaks to work out bass drum and bass guitar patterns, sort out tempos and guitar and drum breaks.
Ginger, wielding a pair of enormous sticks — “Phil Seamen calls ‘em Irish navvy poles” — suggested doing their “comedy number.” This proved to be a jugband tune called “Take Your Finger Off It” with very traditional “Ja Da” type chords. At the end Eric looked at Jack and grinned “You mucked up the end.”“Yes, I did, didn’t I,” said Jack coolly. It was rather like a confrontation between Rommel and Montgomery, with the mutual respect of two generals.
Deciding on a tea break, the trio drove off in their hired van, Jack at the wheel, managing to block main road traffic in both directions, while attemntin a U-turn.
In a nearby cafe we talked about the group’s musical policy. Enthusiasm Was high. Everyone wanted to talk at once. “It’s Blues Ancient and Modern,” said Eric. “We call it Sweet and Sour Rock and Roll,” said Jack.“Yes, that’s a good headline,” said Eric. “What we want to do is anything that people haven’t done before. Pete Townshend is enthusiastic and he may write a number for us.”
“At the moment we’re trying to get a repertoire up for all the gigs we’ve got to do,” said Ginger. “We’re digging back as far as we can, even 1927.”“And we’ve got a lot of originals we want to do,” said Jack. “Some are very strange. And there’s numbers like ‘Long Haired Unsquare Dude Called Jack’ which Paul used to sing with Manfred.
Will there be any jazz feel to the music? “I’d say jazz was definitely out,” said Eric, “and sweet n’ sour rock and roll is in. Actually promoters are predicting that Sinatra will be the biggest draw in ‘67, ever since his sensational appearance at Ealing blues club.”
How ready are they for the public?
“We’re half ready,” said Jack. “We’ve only been rehearsing for three days, and we could have 50 numbers if wanted, but we want to choose them carefully.”
Said Eric: “Most people have formed the impression of us as three solo musicians clashing with each other. We want to cancel that idea and be a group that plays together.”
What sort of presentation will the group have? “We want a turkey on stage while we’re playing,” said Eric.
I made a choking noise through a mouthful of tea that meant: “Would you repeat that?”
“Yeah, we just want a turkey on stage while we’re playing. We all like turkeys and its nice to have them around. Another dada thing — I was going to have this hat made of a brim with a cage on top and a live frog inside. It would be very nice to have stuffed bears on stage. We’d ignore them—not acknowledge their presence at all.”