Peter Edward “Ginger” Baker (born 19 August 1939) is an English drummer and the founder of the rock band Cream. His work in the 1960s earned him praise as “rock’s first superstar drummer,” although his individual style melded a jazz background with his interest in African rhythms. Baker is credited as a pioneer of drumming in genres like jazz fusion, heavy metal, and world music.
Baker began playing drums at age 15, and later took lessons from Phil Seamen. In the 1960s, he joined Blues Incorporated, where he met bassist, Jack Bruce. The two clashed often but would be rhythm section partners again in the Graham Bond Organisation and Cream, the latter of which Baker co-founded with Eric Clapton in 1966. Cream achieved worldwide success but lasted only until 1968, in part due to Baker’s and Bruce’s volatile relationship. After briefly working with Clapton in Blind Faith and leading Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Baker spent several years in the 1970s living and recording in Africa, often with Fela Kuti, in pursuit of his long-time interest in African music. Among Baker’s other collaborations is his work with Gary Moore, Masters of Reality, Public Image Ltd, Atomic Rooster, Bill Laswell, jazz bassist Charlie Haden, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and another person led effort, Ginger Baker’s Energy.
Baker’s drumming attracted attention for his style, showmanship, and use of two bass drums instead of the conventional one. In his early days, he performed lengthy drum solos, most notably in the Cream song “Toad”, one of the earliest recorded examples in rock music. Baker is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Cream, of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2008, and of the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2016.