Ginger Baker, the most versatile and brilliant drummer in the history of English music, has died in a hospital in Canterbury at the age of 80.
In September, his family announced that he was critically ill and asked fans to keep him in their prayers. On Sunday morning, his Facebook page said, “he passed away peacefully.”
Born as Peter Edward Baker on August 19, 1939, the English drummer co-founded the rock band “Cream.” He became famous in the 1960s and 1970s for his style of blended jazz and African rhythms and pioneered jazz fusion and world music.
Baker started playing drums at age 15. He later took lessons from British jazz drummer Phil Seamen.
In the 1960s, the drummer joined “Blues Incorporated” where he met Jack Bruce, Cream’s lead vocalist and bassist, who died in 2014. Bruce’s family took to Twitter to pay tribute to Baker, stating, “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.”
Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr said, “God bless Ginger Baker, incredible musician wild and inventive drummer. Peace and love to his family.”
Beatles’ lead vocalist and bassist Paul McCartney tweeted, “Great drummer, wild and lovely guy… Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will.”
Baker was a notorious drummer because of his violent temper and confrontations with his fellow musicians and fans. In 2012, Rolling Stone reporter David Fricke wrote that even at old age, “you get close to Baker at your peril.”
He had four wives and was a father of three children, Nettie, Leda, and Kofi.
In the 1960s, Baker started using heroin and got addicted to it throughout his life. It is estimated that he tried to stop using heroin approximately 29 times during his life but he was not able to quit permanently. In 2013, Baker said he had a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) because he was a chronic smoker. He also had degenerative osteoarthritis, which is why he used to have constant back pains. In June 2016, Baker was known to recovering from open-heart surgery. He also had swollen legs and feet due to a bad fall.