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":
Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. We worked together on the 'Band on the Run' album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul pic.twitter.com/Rne4tn6A2i— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) October 6, 2019
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":
Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer. pic.twitter.com/tZg3IGwP4Z— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) October 6, 2019
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":
Ginger Baker was a great and unique musician and an innovator as well - he will be sorely missed - I met him many years ago in the old days and saw him a couple years ago in New York and he still sounded great - 1/2— Dave Davies (@davedavieskinks) October 6, 2019
- he always had nice things to say about the Kinks - i feel bad but he had a good run - love and blessings Dave Davies nice drumming in this song @GingerBDrums https://t.co/sTZJHvp1FC #RIPGingerBaker 2/2— Dave Davies (@davedavieskinks) October 6, 2019
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.":
Sad to hear of the passing of this legend. 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. Ginger could be difficult, sure, but he was truly unique behind that drum kit.— Bernie Marsden (@Bernie_Marsden) October 6, 2019
R.I.P Ginger. 🥁❤️ pic.twitter.com/c5wjRdnhH7
Ginger Baker...R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/PPeN8EhW0s— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) October 6, 2019
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":
1/2 As a young musician few drummers stood taller or were a bigger musical influence than Ginger Baker...I will never forget the awesomeness of seeing him perform with Cream at Massey Hall on June 5 1968 along side the late great Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. pic.twitter.com/U033iRN1ke— Rush (@rushtheband) October 6, 2019
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".
RIP Ginger Baker - who thrilled us all with his massively innovative drumming in CREAM. When I advertised on my (Imperial) College notice board for a drummer to form a group with, I put “‘Wanted : a drummer who can… https://t.co/FnDtbN91Sr— Dr. Brian May (@DrBrianMay) October 6, 2019
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."
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.