24 March, 2009
Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker is an English drummer, best known for his work with Cream. He is also known for his numerous associations with New World music and the use of African influences and other diverse collaborations such as his work with the rock band Hawkwind.
Baker gained fame as a member of the Graham Bond Organization, and then for becoming a member of the band Cream with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton from 1966 until they disbanded in 1968. He later joined the group Blind Faith. In 1970 Baker formed toured and recorded with fusion rock group Ginger Baker's Air Force. He recorded Stratavarious in 1972, with the Nigerian pioneer of Afrobeat Fela Ransome-Kuti and the vocalist Bobby Tench from The Jeff Beck Group, an album released under his own name. Baker Gurvitz Army was formed in 1974 until its demise in 1976. Since then Baker has released many albums of ethnic fusion and jazz percussion and has recorded and toured with various jazz, classical and rock ensembles.
Baker's drumming attracted attention for its flamboyance, showmanship, and pioneering use of two bass drums instead of the conventional single bass kick drum. As a firmly established jazz drummer, he dislikes being referred to as a rock drummer. While at times performing in a similar way to Keith Moon from The Who, Baker also employs a more restrained style influenced by the British jazz groups he heard during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In his early days as a drummer he performed lengthy drum solos, the best known being the thirteen-minute drum solo "Toad" from Cream's double album Wheels of Fire. He is also noted for using a variety of other percussion instruments and for his application of African rhythms.
Baker formed and recorded with Ginger Baker's Energy and was involved in collaborations with Bill Laswell, jazz bassist Charlie Haden and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. He was also member of Hawkwind, Atomic Rooster and Public Image. In 1994 he formed The Ginger Baker Trio and joined bassist Googe in Masters of Reality formed by producer, singer and guitarist Chris Goss.
Ginger Baker sat in for Fela Ransome-Kuti's drummer Tony Allen during recording sessions which were published in 1971 by the Regal Zonophone / Pathe Marconi label under the record title Live! and released through the Polydor label in 1972. Fela also appeared with Ginger Baker on Stratavarious alongside Bobby Gass, a pseudonym for Bobby Tench of The Jeff Beck Group, an album by Ginger Baker released on the Polydor label in the same year. Stratavarious was re-issued as a compilation along with the two complete Ginger Baker's Air Force albums entitled Do What You Like in 1998.
Baker and Bruce played together in the Graham Bond Organisation and Alexis Korner's ecletic Blues Incorporated before they accepted an invitation from Eric Clapton to join the band Cream in 1966. Cream disbanded during 1968 and in 1969 Baker joined Clapton along with Ric Grech and Steve Winwood in forming Blind Faith. Bruce and Clapton also played together near the end of Clapton's tenure with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In 1994 Baker joined BBM (Bruce-Baker-Moore), a short-lived power trio with the lineup of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Irish rock blues guitarist Gary Moore. During May 2005 Ginger Baker was reunited with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce for a Cream re-union at the Albert Hall in UK.