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Sir Paul McCartney pays tribute as Cream drummer Ginger Baker dies

Sour relationship:
From left, Ginger
Baker, Jack Bruce,
who the drummer
often clashed with,
and Eric Clapton PICTURE: REX

DRUMMER Ginger Baker, who played in supergroup Cream with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, has died aged 80.

The flame-haired percussionist’s family had revealed last month that he was critically ill in hospital.

And his daughter Nettie Baker announced yesterday that he had died peacefully and without pain.

Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute to him, tweeting: ‘Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy.

Showman: Baker on stage in 1968

‘We worked together on the Band On The Run album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will.’

London-born Baker was renowned for his showmanship and innovative drumming technique. As a rock music pioneer in the 1960s, he stayed true to a jazz style that played a big part in Cream’s unique sound.

The band, whose hits included Sunshine Of Your Love, heavily influenced a string of acts like Led Zeppelin. But Baker often clashed with Bruce and once tried to cut short one of the bassist’s solos by aiming a drumstick at his head on stage.

Cream split after two years and, after stints in Blind Faith and Air Force, the drummer reacted to the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970 by moving to Nigeria to get clean of drugs. While there, he recorded with Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

In 2005, he played comeback gigs with Cream but soon found himself back at odds with Bruce, who died in 2014. Baker revealed in 2016 that heart problems had stopped him performing. He wrote in a blog: ‘Just seen doctor… big shock… no more gigs for this old drummer.’