Demon at the drums: Cream co-founder Ginger Baker gave life hell
Jazz-influenced drummer with the first rock supergroup was known for frenzied solos and hailed as one of the greats
Ginger Baker, who has died at the age of 80, was often credited with being the finest drummer in rock ’n’ roll, notably during his time with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce in Cream; it was entirely in keeping with his perverse nature – which embraced tastes as varied as polo, heroin and olive farming – that he should insist he was actually a jazz musician.
But with his shaggy red hair and beard, wild-eyed stare and emaciated appearance, Baker seemed the epitome of the crazed rock drummer. His playing was intuitive, complex, polyrhythmical – and usually thunderously loud. His name is synonymous with the 15-minute drum solo.
In their two-year existence Cream achieved spectacular success, establishing themselves as the first rock “supergroup” and gathering an army of fans in Europe and the US. When the group was formed in 1966, neither Clapton, Bruce nor Baker was well known, although they had played in some respected bands. Bruce and Baker, in particular, had been together in the Graham Bond Organisation, from which the bass guitarist Bruce had been sacked by Baker, an intense, short-tempered man who had sidelined Bond from the leadership of his own outfit...