That’s Pete ‘Ginger’ Baker, by the way. No relation… [Are you sure?! – Ed] In the Guardian Edward Helmore talks to the former Cream drummer as a taster for the forthcoming documentary “Beware of Mr Baker” – the “second-best rock documentary of the year”, according to Rolling Stone. There’s also a Guardian gallery, Ginger Baker’s career – in pictures.
Old bandmates, such as Jack Bruce – whom Baker physically attacked, precipitating the breakup of Cream – and Clapton contribute to the documentary. Asked if contemporaries such as John Bonham or Keith Moon ever measured up to Baker, Clapton is emphatic: “No. No. No. Different league. Completely.”
Instead, Baker sought the recognition of heroes such as Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Phil Seamen and Art Blakey. Not Bonham or Moon? “Don’t make me laugh,” he says. “If it doesn’t swing, it doesn’t swing. There’s lots of drummers with lots of technique. It doesn’t matter how many beats you play, it’s where you play them, and a lot of it is what you don’t play.” So what would have happened if Cream had stayed together?
“Cream only lasted as long as it did because it was successful,” Baker says. “I was lucky to be part of a movement in which I was one of the major players.”
“If truth be known,” he continues, “I was the Stones’ first drummer. We used to do the interval for Alexis Korner with Mick Jagger, who was like Korner’s protege, and Brian Jones. I got on very well with Brian, so we formed a band. Then Charlie [Watts] left Alexis Korner so I could join, and I got Charlie into the Stones. But it was Brian who set the Stones on its path.”
Here’s the trailer for “Beware of Mr Baker”.
And there’s an uncomfortable, short, Q&A session with the director and documentary subject from the BFI festival screening. You have been warned.
On a lighter note, try this 1992 incarnation of Ginger Baker on the Masters of Reality second album, Sunrise on the Sufferbus. Enjoy!