- Category : 1939-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 3
English drummer and a co-founder of the world's first supergroup Cream. His work in the 1960s earned him the reputation of "rock's first superstar drummer", while his individual style melded a jazz background with African rhythms. He is credited as having been a pioneer of drumming in such genres as jazz fusion and world music.
Baker was nicknamed "Ginger" for his shock of flaming red hair. He began playing drums at age 15, and later took lessons from English jazz drummer Phil Seamen. In the 1960s he joined Blues Incorporated, where he met bassist Jack Bruce. The two clashed often, but would be rhythm section partners again in the Graham Bond Organisation and Cream, the latter of which Baker co-founded with Eric Clapton in 1966. Cream achieved worldwide success but lasted only until 1968, in part due to Baker's and Bruce's volatile relationship. After briefly working with Clapton in Blind Faith and leading Ginger Baker's Air Force, Baker spent several years in the 1970s living and recording in Africa, often with Fela Kuti, in pursuit of his long-time interest in African music. Among Baker's other collaborations are his work with Gary Moore, Masters of Reality, Public Image Ltd, Hawkwind, Atomic Rooster, Bill Laswell, jazz bassist Charlie Haden, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and Ginger Baker's Energy.
Baker's drumming is regarded for its style, showmanship, and use of two bass drums instead of the conventional one. In his early days, he performed lengthy drum solos, most notably in the five-minute-long Cream song "Toad" (1966), one of the earliest recorded examples in rock music.
In February 2006, Cream received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their contribution to, and influence upon, modern music. Baker was an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also as a member of Cream, of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2008, and of the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2016.
Baker was noted for his eccentric, often self-destructive lifestyle, and he struggled with heroin addiction for many years. Baker was married four times and fathered three children.
In February 2013, Baker said he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from years of heavy smoking, and chronic back pain from degenerative osteoarthritis. He died in the morning of 6 October 2019 at the age of 80, at a hospital in Canterbury, Kent.