Iconic drummer Ginger Baker died Sunday at the age of 80. He was best known for being a member of the ’60s rock band Cream and is highly regarded as an influential drummer who helped redefine the role of the drum kit in rock music.
Baker passed away after falling critically ill and being hospitalized last month. According to a brief statement from his family on his official Twitter, the musician passed away peacefully: “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.”
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 Baker (@GingerBDrums) October 6, 2019
Born Peter Edward Baker on August 19th, 1939, in the Lewisham area of southeast London, the musician became known as “Ginger” for his flaming red hair. A classically-trained jazz drummer, Baker brought elements of swing to rock and roll. According to a BBC broadcast from 1969, it was Baker who convinced Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce to form the band Cream. On their first tour, Baker practiced so intensively that he broke furniture in several hotels along the tour stops.
All that practice paid off. Highly prolific, Cream put forth four albums within two years and grossed an estimated $35 million, according to the New York Times. Cream disbanded in 1968 after growing animosity between Baker and Bruce. But Baker’s addition to Cream made the band still relevant in rock and roll after over 50 years. When asked how he wishes to be remembered, Baker succinctly replied: “drummer.”
You can watch Baker explain his drumming rudiments around the 34-minute mark of the 1969 BBC broadcast of Cream’s Farewell Concert below.