“He set the bar for what rock drumming could be…Every rock drummer since has been influenced in some way by Ginger – even if they don’t know it.”
-Neil Peart, in Jay Bulger’s Rolling Stone article (1085; 8/20/09) entitled “The Devil and Ginger Baker”
I often get tired of people talking about “how good it used to be,” but sometimes it’s simply true.
Bulger’s story on Ginger Baker in Rolling Stone is by far one of the most intriguing articles I’ve read in that magazine for a while. And I’m thrilled to see them include a story on such a guy. If music is still producing Ginger Baker-types, it’s hard to find them.
Ginger Baker is 70 years old. He was born in August of 1939.
Baker hasn’t been part of a “big hit,” or a “big band,” since the 1970s. And in an ever-fickle music industry, that often equates to “doesn’t matter anymore.”
That’s a big part of why this blog exists; to help bring attention to those that have slowly, quietly, sometimes-accidentally been pushed off the stage, and in a lot of cases, out of the venue entirely.
From Anthony DeCurtis’ essay on Eric Clapton, found in the book Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay: An Anthology, by William McKeen,
“Formed in 1966, Cream’s impact on the world of pop music was immense. Rock bands to that point had played almost exclusively before crowds of screaming teeny-boppers – a major reason why live performance was beginning to seem pointless to bands whose music and ideas were becoming more sophisticated. Discussing rock and roll in musical terms was a joke to the mainstream media, and alternative media had not yet sprung up. Cream was a primary catalyst in transforming rock and roll into music that could be performed in concert before adults and analyzed with the same rigor that blues or jazz could be. The declaration implicit in the band’s name was itself a demand to be taken seriously. In Coleman’s (Clapton biographer) terse summary, ‘They made musicianship hip.’ Clapton forever defined the role of guitar hero at this point, and with Bruce on bass and the redoubtable Ginger Baker on drums, Cream defined the power trio.”
Quite an important time-frame in rock and roll, and Ginger Baker was an integral part of it.
Following Cream, he was in Blind Faith. Then Ginger Baker’s Air Force. Then Baker Gurvitz Army. Then he became a well-known drummer in Africa.
To some, that’s a dimishing sequence.
For others, they simply see one of the greatest.