Ginger Baker, the legendary drummer who shot to fame in the 1960s as a member of the pioneering British rock trio Cream, has died. He was 80.
The musician died on Sunday morning, his family confirmed in a statement shared on his official Twitter page.
“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,” they wrote.
The announcement came less than two weeks after his family said that the musician had been admitted to the hospital and was “critically ill.”
“The Baker family are sad to announce that Ginger is critically ill in hospital. Please keep him in your prayers tonight,” the statement read.
After a Twitter user asked if the statement was “for real,” Baker’s account replied, “Sadly yes.”
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
Although no further information has been shared by his family, in 2016, Baker shared a blog post on his website about having heart problems.
“Just seen doctor… big shock…. no more gigs for this old drummer…. everything is off…. of all things i never thought it would be my heart…..” he wrote.
The musician underwent open heart surgery in 2016, according to NME.
Following news of Baker’s death, stars from the music industry shared kind words on Twitter as they remembered the legendary drummer for his success in the pioneering British rock trio Cream.
“Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. We worked together on the ‘Band on the Run’ album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul,” wrote Beatles member Paul McCartney.
“So very, very sorry to hear this…..Fly high Ginger! You were a one off and and a true legend…We were honoured to work with you…RIP,” wrote English rock band Hawkwind, which Baker was a member of from 1980-1981.
So very, very sorry to hear this.....Fly high Ginger! You were a one off and and a true legend...We were honoured to work with you...RIP 😢 x— Hawkwind (@HawkwindHQ) October 6, 2019
Cream — which is widely cited as the original supergroup since all three members came from accomplished bands — sold 35 million albums in just over two years. The band was awarded the world’s first-ever platinum disc for their double album, Wheels of Fire, and produced psychedelic hits like “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine of Your Love.”
They broke up in 1968 with little warning, at the height of their commercial success. As Clapton, 74, wrote in his 2007 autobiography, Clapton, the band was struggling at the time with an “inability to get along.”
“We would just run away from one another,” he wrote. “We never socialized together and never really shared ideas anymore.”
RIP Ginger Baker - who thrilled us all with his massively innovative drumming in CREAM. When I advertised on my (Imperial) College notice board for a drummer to form a group with, I put “‘Wanted : a drummer who can… https://t.co/FnDtbN91Sr— Dr. Brian May (@DrBrianMay) October 6, 2019
Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer. pic.twitter.com/tZg3IGwP4Z— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) October 6, 2019
After briefly working with Clapton again in the supergroup Blind Faith and leading his own jazz-rock band, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Baker spent several years in the ’70s living and recording in Africa.
In 1993, Baker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Clapton and Bruce for their work with Cream. Years later, in 2005, the three reunited for Cream concerts in London and New York City.
Born Peter Edward Baker in 1939 in London, Baker began playing drums at the age of 16. He gained early fame as a member of the Graham Bond Organisation, where he first met his future bandmate, Bruce.
In 2012, director Jay Bulger released a critically acclaimed documentary about Baker’s life titled, Beware of Mr. Baker.
During an interview with Rolling Stone in 2013, Baker mentioned his health issues, saying, “I’ve got degenerative osteoarthritis, which is extremely painful.”
“I’m on a regiment with a health service pain management control,” he continued. “Apart from that I’ve got COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) from smoking.”
In 2016, Baker’s daughter, Leda, posted a blog post on his website which said that Baker was “recovering very well” after “open heart surgery and a bad fall.”
“He called the day after his surgery to say he was OK,” she wrote. “Albeit a rather disoriented and unintelligible conversation he was at least awake and aware. The fall has resulted in swollen legs and feet which he is seeing his doctor about in the next day or so. But although he is recovering, any performances in the near future seem over ambitious.”
Baker is survived by his wife Kudzai Machokoto (whom he married in 2010) and his three kids from a previous marriage: son Kofi and daughters Ginette and Leda.