Cream, Blind Faith, Airforce, Masters of Reality, The Ginger Baker Trio, DJQ20 and lately Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, are just some of the iconic bands put together by this legendary figure.
From his musical beginnings on the London Jazz scene of the late 1950’s, Peter ‘Ginger’ Baker soon forged a name for himself and in 1966, after seeing Eric Clapton play in London, he formed the power trio Cream with bassist Jack Bruce. The rest is history!
Cream were so popular in the United States, that in 1968 they broke the box office records formerly held by the Beatles! Rare super 8 footage of the band shot by Ginger, shows freeways jammed with vehicles heading to hear the music that spoke for a generation.
In 1969, Ginger joined Eric Clapton again, this time with Steve Winwood & Rick Grech to form the world’s first ‘super group’ Blind Faith, who played the first season free festival in London’s Hyde Park (now on DVD), with an historic world tour & album. In 1970, Ginger formed a ‘big band’, Ginger Baker’s Airforce, that in several incarnations including members Steve Winwood and Denny Laine amongst many, was credited with bringing African music to the popular consciousness.
For the next 3 decades Ginger had several adventures and continued to write, perform and record with various artists world-wide, including Robbie Robertson, Jimmy Page, Gary Moore and Andy Somers. In 1999, after completing the critically acclaimed ‘Coward of the County’ CD with Ron Miles, Ginger headed back to his beloved Africa in semi-retirement. Then in 2005, he hit the world stage again at Cream’s mega-successful re-union, firstly at London’s Royal Albert Hall (scene of their iconic ‘Farewell’ show in 1968) and later more sell out shows at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. All previous merchandise records were broken on these dates and a CD/vinyl & DVD of the London performances was released in commemoration.
Ginger followed this up with his best-selling auto-biography ‘Hellraiser’ in 2009, when he also celebrated his 70th birthday & collected a Zildjian lifetime achievement award presented to him by his good friend, Rolling Stone drummer Charlie Watts.
2012 saw the release of Jay Bulger’s explosive Rockumentary ‘Beware of Mr Baker’, winner of an award at the SSXW festival in Texas, (influenced by Tony Palmer’s atmospheric 1971 film ‘Ginger Baker in Africa’), containing rare archive footage and a foreword by John Lydon with whom Ginger collaborated, along with the late great Tony Williams, on Lydon’s PiL album in 1986.
2012 also saw Ginger form his ‘Jazz Confusion’, with Pee Wee Herman, Alec Dankworth and Dodoo Abass, going back to his jazz routes, yet featuring the unique African style for which he is renowned. The band released the hugely popular ‘Why?’ album in 2014 & continue to bring the house down as they perform worldwide.
The same year brought a collaboration with Steve Tannett (former partner of Miles Copeland at IRS Records), his first ‘best of’ CD for several decades, ‘A Drummer’s Tale’, along with a unique picture book of memorabilia and related merchandise.
In November 2014, Ginger & Eric were deeply saddened by the death of their former band-mate and friend Jack Bruce, whose funeral they attended together and Ginger looks forward to playing at a memorial concert for Jack in London in October 2015.
Ginger Baker, living legend, music pioneer, former Hellraiser, now a grandfather who enjoys family life and a cup of tea! But as he says himself, ‘I’m still playing great’!