Ginger Baker


When you look back at the most influential drummers of the late-sixties and seventies there are three that stand out from the rest. They are John Bonham, Keith Moon and Ginger Baker. The latter was different than the previous two as he had a distinct style that was clearly influenced by jazz. Ginger Baker had a one-of-a-kind approach to drumming that was influenced by the likes of Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Baby Dodds. Playing with musicality and showmanship mixed with a flamboyant attitude toward the instrument Baker became a drum god during his time with Cream. Although fans would consider him to fit in the rock category Baker himself preferred to be respected as a jazz drummer playing a rock gig. He was considered to be one of the pioneers of double bass drumming as he utilized them starting in 1966. Along with Moon his drum set was larger than what drummers had been using at the time. In his online bio he recalled:

Every drummer that ever played for Duke Ellington played a double bass drum kit. I went to a Duke Ellington concert in 1966 and Sam Woodyard was playing with Duke and he played some incredible tom tom and two bass drum things, some of which I still use today and I just knew I had to get a two bass drum kit. Keith Moon was with me at that concert and we were discussing it and he went straight round to Premier and bought two kits which he stuck together. I had to wait for Ludwig to make a kit up for me, which they did – to my own specifications. So Moonie had the two bass drum kit some months before I did.

According to Geoff Nicholls: “From 1966 and throughout Cream, Ginger played a Sparkling Silver Pearl American-made Ludwig double bass-drum kit, a special order with unusual sizes. The kicks had 11” deep shells, not the usual 14”: 22”x11” (l), 20”x11” (r), 12”x8”, 13”x9” (Rogers Swiv-O-Matic mounts), 14”x14”, 16”x16”. He specifically wanted a different tonality from each of his bass drums. Always looking for multiple tonalities he double-tiered his cymbals – a lower cymbal placed on the section join below the top section so he could mount four cymbals on his two right stands and two on his single left stand. He had a lower 20” ride, 13”, 14”, 16”, 17” and 18” crashes, 8” splash and cowbell.”

In his early days with Cream, he developed what would later become the standard rock drum solo, with the best known example being the five-minute-long epic titled “Toad.” Baker was also one of the first drummers to alternate his left foot between his bass drum pedal and hi-hat pedal to create numerous groupings. This also became a standard. Baker’s setup is unusual in that he positions his drums flat as opposed to on an angle making them more difficult to play. Visit https://www.gingerbaker.com/.

 

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