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Ginger Baker, drummer for Cream and Blind Faith, dies at 80

By
Allen Cone
Ginger Baker plays drums with Jack Bruce (L) and Eric Clapton as part of Cream on the Dutch television show Fanclub in 1968. Photo by 	Omroepvereniging VARA/Wikimedia Commons
Ginger Baker plays drums with Jack Bruce (L) and Eric Clapton as part of Cream on the Dutch television show Fanclub in 1968. Photo by  Omroepvereniging VARA/Wikimedia Commons

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Ginger Baker, the British Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer with Cream and Blind Faith, died Sunday morning, two weeks after his family said he was critically ill in a hospital. He was 80.

"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.

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Baker was a member of the British rock trio Cream, which he co-founded with Eric Clapton in London in 1966. The third member of the original group, Bassist Jack Bruce, died in 2014 at 71.

In 1968 they unexpectedly broke up.

Cream sold 35 million albums in just over two years. They earned the world's first platinum disc for their double album, Wheels of Fire, which included I Feel Free and Sunshine of Your Love.

He had downplayed being labeled as one of rock's most influential musicians, telling Rhythm magazine: "It's the drummer's job to make the other guys sound good."

Clapton wrote in his autobiography in 2007, the band was struggling at the time with an "inability to get along."

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"We would just run away from one another," he wrote. "We never socialized together and never really shared ideas anymore."

His temperamental and argumentative behavior frequently led to on-stage fights, BBC reported.

Baker then worked briefly with Clapton again in Blind Faith. He then started his own jazz-rock band, Ginger Baker's Air Force, in the '70s.

In the 1980s, he played with John Lydon's Public Image Ltd,

Baker decided to leave the London music scene after the drug-related death of his friend, Jimi Hendrix.

He lived and recorded in Nigeria, Africa.

Because of financial problems, he lost control of his studio.

Born Peter Edward Baker, was nicknamed Ginger for his flaming red hair

Baker began playing drums at 16, playing in Grand Bond Organization, where he first met Bruce.

His health had declined over the years.

In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, he said "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."

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In 2016, Baker's daughter, Leda, posted a blog post on his website that Baker was "recovering very well" after "open heart surgery and a bad fall."

Baker is survived by Kudzai Machokoto, whom he married in 2010, and three children from a previous marriage.

Notable deaths of 2019

Jerry Herman
Jerry Herman listens to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama as the president and First Lady Michelle Obama host the 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees at a reception in the East Room of the White House on December 5, 2010. The Tony-award winning composer died on December 26, 2019, at the age of 88. File Pool Photo by Gary Fabiano/UPI | License Photo

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