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Ginger Baker: Still a Force to be Reckoned With

Ginger Baker will turn 73 on Sunday, born August 19, 1939 in London, England.

And he’s not going gentle into that good night.

Not if a documentary released earlier this year is any indication of the fiery drummer’s still hell-raising ways.

More on that in a minute.

Best known as the drummer for Cream and Blind Faith, to say Ginger’s been influential in his field would be the quintessential understatement.

According to Allmusic.com, “virtually every drummer of every heavy metal band that has followed since that time has sought to emulate some aspect of Baker‘s playing.”

He’s also been called rock’s first “superstar drummer.”

But he might well be known almost as much for his explosive temper as for his powerful drumming.

The director of “Beware of Mr. Baker” gets smacked across his nose at the beginning of the film by Ginger’s cane, and, staggering back to his car, announces, “I think Ginger Baker just kicked my ass.”

Clearly, this is a man who, aside from being a great musician, has some demons to deal with, but would rather not deal with them directly.

In a review of the documentary, Drew McWeeny comments:

“I feel for him, but I feel for his kids and his ex-wives more.  Sure, Johnny Rotten can justify it by saying, “That’s what he needed to be in order to make the music he makes,” but that doesn’t mean anything to the very real people whose lives he permanently damaged with his careless callous nature, with his lifelong tendency to flee whenever things were hard.”

Ginger is still out there working with a band called Jazz Confusion, and a review of a show last April shows that as far as his chops are concerned, Ginger’s still pretty much got it:

“By rights, a lifetime of booze, drugs, fights, car crashes and wild women should have left Ginger Baker a wreck, but apparently not so.

The Lewisham-born drum icon’s once-red hair is receding and grey but he can still beat out jazz and afro-rhythms with a semblance of the old power.”

Here’s wishing Ginger a happy birthday and may God help anyone who gets too close to celebrate it with him!

 

 

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