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Tributes paid to the late Ginger Baker

The world of music has come together to pay their respects to the legendary drummer Ginger Baker.

On Sunday 6th October, Ginger's family announced through his Twitter account that the Cream sticksman had died in hospital, saying: "We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks."

Ginger had been admitted to hospital on 25th September, with a statement from his family saying he was "critically ill", calling on fans to "keep him in your prayers tonight". A subsequent update on Sunday 29th September roused hopes as Ginger was described as "holding his own". Sadly, however, Ginger passed away a week later.

Ginger had suffered a number of health setbacks in the past few years, including breaking most of his ribs, being diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition and undergoing open heart surgery in 2016. Announcing the news of the operation at the time, Ginger wrote "No more gigs for this old drummer... everything is off... of all things I never thought it would be my heart."

Known as much for his wild temperament as his drumming, Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker had worked with a who's-who of artists throughout his 60 year career, and the tributes paid following the news of his passing pay testament to his stature. 

Paul McCartney, who recorded 'Picasso's Last Words' for the Wings album Band on the Run at Ginger's Nigerian studio, described Ginger as a "great drummer, wild and lovely guy":

Mick Jagger, who had jammed with Baker in Alexis Korner's influential Blues Incorporated band, (where Ginger was recruited on the recommendation of Charlie Watts, who was leaving to join The Rolling Stones), described him as "a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer":

Dave Davies of The Kinks called Baker "a great and unique musician and an innovator as well", as well as commenting how "he always had nice things to say about the Kinks":

Former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden tweeted "I was always first and foremost a fan of Cream & so getting to record and play live with Ginger Baker is a very big part of my pro career", whilst Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale opted for simply "Ginger Baker...R.I.P.":

Rush drummer Neil Peart detailed the enormous influence that Ginger had had on him, after witnessing Cream play live in 1968, observing "Ginger Baker's most notable achievement that should be recognized is the first rock drum solo":

Queen's Brian May posted two videos on his Instagram account, where he dropped the needle on 'Fresh Cream' on his record player, describing the time he first heard it as "my god that was a magical moment". He also shared how, when forming the band that would become Queen, he was searching for a drummer who could play like Ginger Baker: "When I advertised on my (Imperial) College notice board for a drummer to form a group with (1969, I think), I put “‘Wanted : a drummer who can play like Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell and GINGER BAKER .... “ Guess who replied ?? A certain Mr Taylor. And he could ! So you could say Ginger Baker is inextricably woven into our history".

Hawkwind, for whom Baker played drums on 3 albums, posted "Fly free Ginger... Crazy, happy memories of your time with us": 

In 2012, Ginger was the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary film 'Beware of Mr Baker', in which he looked back at his career with Cream and Blind Faith, his introduction to Fela Kuti, his self-destructive lifestyle and his residence inside a fortified South African compound. The trailer became something of a viral hit, featuring as it does, Ginger attacking the director Jay Bulger with his walking cane:


With typical candour, Ginger described the finished film as: "Some of it is very good and some of it is very annoying."

As a reminder of Ginger Baker's force-of-nature drumming style, here he is in full flow during Cream's farewell gig, with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton playing a 9 minute version of 'Toad':


R.I.P. Ginger, you will be missed. 

Planet Rock will be paying tribute to Ginger with a special archive My Planet Rocks this evening at 6pm, revisiting Mark Jeeves' chat with Ginger, plus we'll be playing 'Disraeli Gears' in full tonight at 11pm.

Listen here.

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