Ginger Baker, the British musician who was best known for his work in Cream, died on Oct. 6 at the age of 80, according to his family.
“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,” his family tweeted.
Baker was born in South London in 1939, and his father was killed in World War II. He began drumming at the age of 15. In 1966, Baker, Jack Bruce, and guitarist Eric Clapton formed the group Cream, and the trio would go on to sell millions of records around the world.
The Independent reported that he had suffered from a number of health ailments in recent years, and he had open heart surgery in 2016. “Serious heart problems” had forced Baker to cancel touring.
As noted by Allmusic.com, he was the “first superstar drummer and the most influential percussionist of the 1960s.”
“Baker made his name entirely on his playing, initially as showcased in Cream, but far transcending even that trio’s relatively brief existence. Though he only cut top-selling records for a period of about three years at the end of the ’60s, virtually every drummer of every heavy metal band that has followed since that time has sought to emulate some aspect of Baker’s playing,” according to the website.
He also contributed to the likes of Gary Moore, Masters of Reality, Public Image Ltd, Hawkwind, Atomic Rooster, and others.
Following his death, tributes poured in on social media.
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.
— Ginger Baker (@GingerBDrums) October 6, 2019
“Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. 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. X Paul,” said former Beatles member Paul McCartney on Twitter.
Baker once said that he never practiced the drums before he started as a 15-year-old.
Ginger Baker, the creative drummer who played with Cream has passed away.
Rest in peace Sir, I doubt we’ll see your likes again.
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) October 6, 2019
“I’d never sat behind a kit before, but I sat down—and I could play!” he told The Guardian in 2009. “One of the musicians turned round and said … ‘We’ve got a drummer’, and I thought… I’m a drummer!’”
Other details about his death, including the cause, are not clear.