Old 10-06-2019, 08:49 AM
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RIP Ginger Baker

An extraordinary drummer and a non-ordinary man; he leaves us at 80 years old.
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
Snowboarder Bo - Your comment that Ginger Baker was a "very cool guy to hang with" is pretty much the ONLY positive comment I have ever heard about Ginger that wasn't focused on his drumming . Seriously, his rep is that he is a huge antisocial prick - I am sure you know his rep, too - what can you tell us that's different?
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
Yeah I had heard that, but my impression after meeting him and talking with him was that it isn't true, at least not in an absolute sense. Lemme tell ya my story:

The club I was working in at the time was a converted Winn-Dixie supermarket building. It still had the sort of half-dock at the back of the building, which was also backstage, so of course that's how we loaded acts in. Well, MoR were playing with someone else that night, I think it might have been Living Colour. Anyway, we had finished loading the bands in and done soundchecks, which meant that everyone left except me. I stayed to focus my lights and build some presets. Once I was done with that, I had a few hours before show, so of course I went into our little stage office and rolled a joint.

I remember it was a nice day, not too hot, and of course I went out onto the loading dock to smoke my joint (we didn't smoke in the club, natch). So I go out there and spark up as I walk thru the doorway. Sitting on the dock there's this guy: older, skinny, shirtless, wearing a pair of shorts and some cheap sneakers with no socks, smoking a cigarette and handling some drum heads. I watch him take a puff on his cig and then use the cig to semi-melt the drum heads, pulling the more severe dings out. I hadn't met him on the load in, but I its not uncommon for a roadie to sleep in during load in and only get up when he's actually needed, so it wasn't crazy strange to see this guy.

Anyway, I said howdy and asked him if he wanted a hit off my joint and and he's like "nah mate i'm fine with my fags". The accent is unmistakably British, and as he raises his head to see me I in turn see his face and realize "holy fuck Ginger Baker is sitting on my loading dock!" Then I realize "holy fuck Ginger Baker is sitting on my loading dock REPAIRING HIS OWN DRUM HEADS WITH A FUCKING CIGARETTE!"

So of course I say to him "holy fuck you're Ginger Baker!" and he's like "yup that's me" and I go "what the fuck are you doing?" and he's like "ah its an old habit and they're still good heads, so ya know it gives me something to do."

"But dude," I said, "you're Ginger fucking Baker! Dude, I can get you some drum heads! I could call any of 3 or 4 people and have a new set of heads here for you in like 30 minutes."

"Nah, that's alright, I'm almost done now" he says.

So he finished fixing his heads maybe 10 minutes later, asked me for the joint and we sat and shot the shit for an hour or so while we ate and drank from the band's catering spread. After an hour or so I rolled another joint; we ended up still sitting on the dock chatting until the bands and road guys started showing up, then he went and put his drum heads on his kit and did a quick soundcheck to make sure they felt and sounded ok, then he went off to shower and prolly get in a short nap before the show.

I remember talking about the band he was playing with quite a lot; he really liked the guys and was quite impressed and enthusiastic about their music. He had been having an okay time on tour but not a fantastic time, although he said some shows were terrific while most were just good-to-really-good.

In my experience he was a very smart, somewhat reserved guy with a very wry & dry sense of humor. I found him easy to talk with and very down-to-earth. He was knowledgable on, and had opinions on, a wide range of subjects so our conversation meandered from this to that to some other thing. I found our conversation entertaining and engaging.

The other guys I worked with were shocked that I had not just met him but had talked with (and smoked pot with) Ginger Baker; they didn't know he was playing with MoR at all since none of them even knew of the band before the show got booked. I remember I had to find a copy of the Friday entertainment section of the newspaper from the week before to show them that Ginger Baker was in fact the guy who was going to be playing the drums that night. My friend Dennis was pissed for weeks that he missed a chance to meet Ginger Baker and get high with him .
RIP Ginger; you done good.
Old 10-06-2019, 09:40 AM
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Thanks for sharing that story Bo.

There was a documentary I stumbled across on Netflix awhile back called "Beware of Mr. Baker" (which was apparently the sign on the gate outside his property). I learned more than I ever wanted to know about Ginger Baker. Frankly, I'm surprised that he made it to 80.

Whatever else you may think of the man, he was a fantastic drummer. RIP Ginger.
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Old 10-06-2019, 09:55 AM
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Great Drummer, saw him live once at the Stone Pony.

I don't know anything about him so I'm probably better off not knowing.
Old 10-06-2019, 09:59 AM
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As I mentioned here not too long ago, I always thought it was very cool that Leonard Bernstein singled out Baker as "a drummer who could really keep time". To me as a young teen, this was validation that "kids music" was, in fact, music. So thanks, Ginger (and Lennie).
Old 10-06-2019, 10:50 AM
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RIP, Ginger. I lived in Denver when Ginger was a resident of nearby Parker, CO. He organized the Denver Polo Club (polo was a passion of his). He also held jazz concerts with his group, the DJQ2O—the Denver Jazz Quintet to Octet, following polo matches. When Ringo Starr brought his All-Starr Band to Red Rocks in 1999, Baker sat in and played a few Cream tunes with Jack Bruce. Immigration problems caused him to move to South Africa in 1999. By all accounts, he was very involved with the community, and a definite asset to Colorado.

Baker did a lot of work on his ranch in Elbert Country, near Parker, building two barns, a guesthouse and a home. His son Kofi, a drummer, played clubs in Denver.

Baker had secured a spot on the jazz scene by releasing two acclaimed albums with Charlie Haden and Bill Frisell. Then he hooked up with his own group, the DJQ2O—the Denver Jazz Quintet to Octet, a unit of local musicians known to perform following games Baker had organized at the Denver Polo Club.
Old 10-06-2019, 10:57 AM
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Woke up to this news today. I had known his health hadn't been great for a long time, so it's not much of a surprise.

Yeah, he had a combative personality a lot of the time, but as Bo's story shows, he obviously could get along with people most of the time. I doubt I would have been happy in a band with him, but he's amazing to listen to. Since the former wasn't ever likely, and I do a lot of the latter: I'll miss ya man. God stopped punishing you for your wickedness!
Old 10-06-2019, 11:30 AM
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Great story here.


Click on the links. There is a great interview.

Sad news of his passing. The gods will be happy to have him and his drum kit in the sky.

Indeed, RIP, Mr. Baker.
Old 10-06-2019, 01:09 PM
Dropo is offline
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More than a drummer, Mr. Baker was a great artist, and like many great artists, possessed of a volatile temperament.

From Beware of Mr. Baker:


In this short clip, Mr. Baker offers his subjective assessment of the drumming talents of John Bonham and Keith Moon; while Eric Clapton puts Mr. Baker’s talent in a somewhat more objective perspective.
Old 10-06-2019, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by harmonicamoon View Post
Great story here.


Click on the links. There is a great interview.

Sad news of his passing. The gods will be happy to have him and his drum kit in the sky.

Indeed, RIP, Mr. Baker.
Maybe Karen Carpenter will finally yeild the drum kit to him.
Old 10-06-2019, 03:04 PM
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With the life he led, I'm surprised Grim Reaper didn't show up 10 years ago. RIP, funny man.
Old 10-06-2019, 03:53 PM
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Sad but not surprising. And about 50 years after we all thought he was dead. There was a segment in "Beware of Mr. Baker" about that.

Saw him with the Air Force in New York somewhere around 1970. Even back then he was acknowledging the African influence on drumming, which was early for international music.

Since he spent all his money on horses (including he money he got from the reunion concert) him fixing his drumheads doesn't surprise me.

Need to go listen to both Toads now.
Old 10-07-2019, 09:05 AM
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Whatever else there is to say about him, he was good at his job--A damn fine drummer for the super group Cream.

RIP Ginger.
Old 10-07-2019, 09:56 AM
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And his vocal chops were pretty good . He made the whole Masters of Reality - Sunrise on the Sufferbus album an amazing display of fun drumming.
"He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy."
Old 10-07-2019, 10:15 AM
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Also featured on PIL's "Album" (aka "Cassette"/"Compact Disc"), one of my favorite records. RIP.
Old 10-07-2019, 02:38 PM
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RIP Ginger Baker. One of the best and most inventive drummers ever. I've long known about his reputation and saw "Beware of Mr. Baker" just a few month ago, but I've always thought that there must be something good and cool (he was cool anyway) about this exceptional man. Thanks Bo for confirming my hunch . I sure can't top his story, but I've got my own Ginger Baker anecdote I already shared last year:

Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
Back in the early 90s, maybe 1992/3, a gig was announced to happen in a town nearby by the "Ginger Baker Group". Now the venue was a local youth club in our very rural region of Germany, a venue where local bands played, but a name like Ginger Baker was unthinkable for a spot like that. The problem was: in 1992, nobody here cared for or had even ever heard of one "Ginger Baker" except for all the local musicians and die-hard rock fans like me. So that's what the audience looked like, maybe 80-100 people in a cellar room of our youth center, half of them drummers themselves. Ginger Baker came up on stage (or what counted for a stage there, a niche in the basement room) with two Swedish guys playing bass and guitar and they play something like Jazz-Rock. The audience was kind and gentle, but everybody in the room knew that it was a farce. After about 45 minutes, Ginger Baker said: "We are very disappointed. We go.", grabbed his wine bottle and left. What a strange experience.
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
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Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 10-07-2019 at 02:39 PM.
Old 10-07-2019, 04:30 PM
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And he'd just gotten that gig with Spinal Tap.
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:38 AM
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I am not a pop music historian like many of you are, and first heard of him watching the show "Beware of Mr. Baker." Obviously talented drummer and total prick who let fortune slip through his fingertips and was jealous of all his fellow successful band-mates. He seemed to treat his son very poorly (who was also a drummer), and did not open the doors for him he could have. I heard a clip of Mr. Baker speaking on the radio and he excused his unpleasant behavior by saying he was taught by his wonderful mother to always tell the truth, that's what all assholes say. So what do I know?, good thing he was talented.


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