Ginger Baker, the legendary drummer of rock band Cream, has died at the age of 80.
It was reported recently that Baker was “critically ill in hospital” and now, in a statement issued by his family, the musician has passed away.
Writing in a post via Baker’s official Twitter page, a statement read: “We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning.”
It continued: “Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks.”
The drummer has been suffering with a number of health issues in recent years. He even underwent open-heart surgery in 2016 after being forced to cancel a tour with his band Air Force after being afflicted with “serious heart problems.”
Baker told Rolling Stone in 2013: “I’ve got degenerative osteoarthritis, which is extremely painful and I’m on a regiment with a health service pain management control,” he said. “Apart from that I’ve got COPD from smoking.”
Baker, who is a founding member of Cream in the 1960s, garnered a reputation as being “rock’s first superstar drummer” as he brought his jazz fusion style of drumming to the rock music scene.
Having initially worked as a jazz musician after learning the drums at the age of 15, Baker went on to meet Eric Clapton and founded the iconic rock group in 1966. Together the band would go on to record four studio albums in three fast and furious years, material which would ultimately garner more than 15 million record sales.
Discussing how he came about to picking up the sticks, Baker once explained: “I was always banging on the desks at school,” he recalled. “So all the kids kept saying, ‘Go on, go and play the drums’, and I just sat down and I could play.
“It’s a gift from God. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. And I’ve got it: time. Natural time.”
Becoming famous for his wild, unpredictable, and flamboyant personality which would ultimately prove to be the downfall of Cream, Baker’s legacy is unparalleled as he is credited as one of the early pioneers of double bass drumming in rock. “Every drummer that ever played for Duke Ellington played a double bass drum kit,” Baker once revealed when talking about his decision to bring in the double bass drum kit to rock music.
“I went to a Duke Ellington concert in 1966 and Sam Woodyard was playing with Duke and he played some incredible tom tom and two bass drum things, some of which I still use today and I just knew I had to get a two bass drum kit.”
Despite his significant impact to rock music and the drumming profession, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer always dismissed such accolades, once stating: “It’s the drummer’s job to make the other guys sound good.”