Ginger Baker: the world of music pays tribute

Ginger Baker
(Image credit: Michael Putland / Getty Images)

Artists from across the world of music have united to pay tribute to drummer Ginger Baker, who has died at the age of 80.

The former Cream legend died early on Sunday morning after being admitted to hospital late last month. His family confirmed the news on Twitter, saying. "We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words to us all over the past weeks.”

Now fellow musicians have taken to social media to pay their own tributes. 

Paul McCartney said, "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."

Kinks founder Dave Davies wrote, "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. He always had nice things to say about the Kinks. I feel bad but he had a good run."

The family of Jack Bruce, the former Cream bassist who died in 2014, tweeted their own tribute, saying, "Surviving a love hate relationship, Ginger was like an older brother to Jack, their chemistry was truly spectacular. RIP Ginger, one of the greatest drummers of all time."

"Fly high Ginger!" tweeted Hawkwind. "You were a one off and and a true legend. We were honoured to work with you." And Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick described Baker as "one of the most innovative drummers in rock" as well as man who made his mark in both jazz and Afrobeat.

"Ginger Baker was a big influence when I was in my teens," wrote ELP's Carl Palmer.   "The Cream were one of my favourite all-time bands. I went to see them 8 times. Ginger was always on fire!"

Singer Steve Winwood released a statement on his website that read, "I was lucky to play with him in Ginger Baker’s Air Force, and to meet and work with such luminaries as Phil Seamen, Harold McNair and Graham Bond. And also in Blind Faith with Eric Clapton and Rick Grech. Although his appointment was very unorthodox (he showed up on the doorstep and said, 'Here I am') - he made a great contribution to the Blind Faith album which has withstood the test of time." 

Flying Colors, Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo and Adrenaline Mob drummer Mike Portnoy wrote, "Very sad day in the Drum world as we say goodbye to one of rock’s greatest pioneers: Ginger Baker. In the 60’s, there were a few drummers that came onto the scene playing “lead drums”. Ginger Baker was one of them taking rock drumming to a whole new level of expression. 

"Now Ginger joins fellow 60’s pioneers Keith Moon, John Bonham & Mitch Mitchell in that great drum-off in the sky.. Thank you Ginger for what you brought to the instrument, and of course your legendary personality!"

"So much freedom in his playing," wrote Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. "What a wildman. Rhythms we’ve hear all our lives, he plucked them out of the sky."

Stevie Van Zandt called Baker, "One of the greatest drummers of all time," and concluded with some advice: "Begin with Cream’s Disraeli Gears." And Roots drummer Questlove wrote, "Rest Well To The Monster Rhythmatist".

Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg simply wrote : “Thank you Ginger Baker,” while Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe said, "Rest In Peace Mr Ginger Baker." 

Gary Kemp, bassist with Nick Mason's Saucerful Of Secrets, remarked that Baker was "the reason so many drummers wanted a double-bass drum," while singer Michael Des Barres said, "The primal, nuanced, angry power of Mr. Baker also describes who he was. Combining his character with his talent he lashed out at the world, rocked it and massaged it like no one else."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.