Tributes Pour In For Drummer Ginger Baker

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Ginger Baker, the co-founder and drummer of blues-rock group Cream, died Sunday after years of health issues. He was 80.

The news came 10 days after his family tweeted that the musician was critically ill in hospital.

“He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer,” Mick Jagger said on Twitter, where Paul McCartney remembered Baker as a “great drummer, wild and lovely guy.” Ringo Starr called Baker an “incredible musician [and] wild and inventive drummer.”

In 2013, Baker shared that he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after years of smoking as well as degenerative osteoarthritis. In 2016, he underwent open heart surgery.

Born Peter Baker in London, he went on to form Cream with Eric Clapton in 1966 and later, with Ric Grech, founded Blind Faith. More recently, he toured with his quartet, Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion.

Cream, which broke up in 1968 but reunited in 2005 for a series of shows, had hits like “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room.”

The family of Baker’s former Cream bandmate Jack Bruce extended condolences via Twitter. “Surviving a love hate relationship, Ginger was like an older brother to Jack, their chemistry was truly spectacular. RIP Ginger, one of the greatest drummers of all time.”

On social media, there have been tributes from artists like Brian May, Flea, Brian Wilson, Stevie Van Zandt and Canada’s Ron Sexsmith.

In a statement he shared on his website, Steve Winwood called Baker’s death “a loss for his contribution to music.” He wrote: “He was well-grounded in jazz from very early on, and later managed to combine this with African and rock music to create his own inimitable style of playing.”

Winwood added: “Beneath his somewhat abrasive exterior, there was a very sensitive human being with a heart of gold.”

Baker stepped away from the drums for good in 2016 after learning he had heart problems. “Of all things, I never thought it would be my heart,” he wrote on his blog at the time.

His life and career were chronicled in the 2012 documentary, Beware of Mr. Baker.

He was married four times and has three adult children.

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