Ginger Baker, the co-founder and drummer of the classic rock bands Cream and Blind Faith, has died at age 80, Rolling Stone reports.
The iconic drummer, who was born Peter Edward Baker in 1939, died Sunday after a lengthy illness. Baker’s family had previously asked for prayers for the “critically ill” drummer.
A post by Baker’s family on Facebook, which you can see below, confirmed his death on Sunday, October 6. The late rock star’s family thanked fans for their kind words.
Baker performed with multiple bands over his six-decade career as rock and roll’s first superstar drummer, although none of his stints lasted more than a few years. As part of his most successful group, British rock band Cream, Baker and his bandmates Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton churned out hits like “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” ” I Feel Free,” and “Badge” before disbanding in 1968, after being together for just two years.
Baker told Rolling Stone in 2009 that Cream was doomed three months after it started because as a drummer he didn’t get any of the writing credits. He also revealed that his bandmate Jack Bruce even tried to fire him.
In 1969, Baker’s Blind Faith supergroup combined members of Cream and Steve Winwood’s former group Traffic. The group released one album and split after one tour, but the breakout song “Can’t Find My Way Home” remains a rock music classic.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, Baker played with a string of bands, including Hawkwind, Public Image LTD, Masters of Reality, and BBM, where he played everything from jazz to post-punk.
Baker was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce and Clapton as part of Cream in 1993. The trio reunited for a series of concerts in 2005. Bruce died in 2014, and Clapton, now the last surviving Cream member, revealed in 2016 that he has a neurological issue that will eventually prevent him from playing guitar.
Baker’s most recent band was the jazz-rock fusion group Ginger Baker’s Air Force, but he eventually had to put down his drum sticks for good because of heart problems.
After Baker’s death was announced, fans and famous friends flocked to social media to remember the musical genius. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea said there was “so much freedom” in Baker’s playing. Beatles legend Paul McCartney, who worked with Baker in the early 1970s on his Band on The Run album with Wings, remembered Baker as “a wild and lovely guy.”
Ginger Baker, the creative drummer who played with Cream has passed away.
Rest in peace Sir, I doubt we’ll see your likes again.
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) October 6, 2019
So much freedom in his playing. What a wildman. Rhythms we’ve hear all our lives he plucked them out of the sky. Rest In Peace Ginger Baker. https://t.co/e3L4IHodhT
— Flea (@flea333) October 6, 2019
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 pic.twitter.com/Rne4tn6A2i
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) October 6, 2019
RIP Ginger Baker. One of the greatest drummers of all time. Begin with Cream’s Disraeli Gears. https://t.co/dObwjvWrva
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) October 6, 2019
According to People, Baker is survived by his wife of nine years, Kudzai Machokoto, and his son Kofi and daughters Ginette and Leda from a previous marriage.