Cream drummer Ginger Baker dies at 80

Ginger Baker, whom Rolling Stone magazine once classed as the third-greatest rock drummer of all time, died in hospital on Sunday morning, his family said.

Baker, who started playing jazz as a teenager, joined Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce in the mid-1960s to form the trio Cream, which went on to become one of the most successful bands of its time and sold more than 10 million records. The band split up in 1968 amid mutual dislike between Baker and Bruce.

One of his best-known contributions to Cream's performances was the long and influential drum solo in "Toad," one of the band's instrumental numbers.

His playing style was characterized by an unusually fierce energy, an energy that took a less musical form when he assaulted the documentary maker Jay Bulger on camera with a walking stick. The film, released in 2012, ended up being called "Beware of Mr. Baker."

Baker later joined Clapton in another band, Blind Faith, which, however, broke up after making just one album.

Decadeslong career

Ginger Baker was born Peter Edward Baker in 1939. His father, a bricklayer, was killed during World War II. Among his musical mentors was Phil Seamen, a leading British jazz drummer of the time.

As one of the first rock musicians to recognize the potential of African music, he set up a recording studio in Lago, Nigeria, in 1973 that operated successfully through the seventies.

Baker wrote and autobiography, Hellraiser, which was published in 2009.

In his last few years, Baker, who overcame a heroin addiction in the early 80s, began to suffer from serious heart problems that prevented him from performing.

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