Archives for August 2015

“Beware of Mr. Baker” Music Documentary – An Insane Must See!


This documentary opens with a deranged old man in a pin-striped shirt and rose-tinted glasses – Ginger Baker – threateningly shaking the metal handle of his cane at the camera.

The interviewer/cameraman, Jay Bolger, a young clean-cut American yells,”What the fuck you doing with that? Are you really gonna hit me with the fucking –?”

Mr. Baker retorts venomously in an English accent, “I fucking well am. I’m gonna fucking put you in hospital.”

The metal cane handle jams into frame. There’s a scream! Ginger Baker clocks Jay in the nose.

And so begins the saga of “Beware of Mr. Baker,” a documentary on the legendary drummer, most well-known from the band Cream. Although to be honest, I had no idea who he was before I watched this documentary.

Even if you don’t remember Cream, or that a young Eric Clapton was in it too, you know “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” With only three band members Cream was a “band’s band” and had a full, drum-fueled sound.

And Ginger Baker “had time” – even all strung out on heroin, looking like Elephant Man meets the Grim Reaper, he naturally felt the beat.

The documentary goes into Ginger growing up during Hitler’s bombing raids on London and uses edgy, Gonzo-style graphics to illustrate Ginger’s years as a troublemaking smartass. He would serve as a decoy in the local music store listening booth while his friends “nicked records.” It was there that he discovered “The Quintet of the Year,” which was composed of legendary jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and Max Roach.

Ginger was blown away: “All of the sudden there was something I could really relate to.” From then on he was hooked.

His obsession with drums would lead him to travel and get kicked out of countries around the world. Including a six year stint in Africa (the birth place of the drums). He set up a studio in Lagos, Nigeria in the 1970’s, at the time “a hotbed of revolution, death and unaccounted violence.” Which Ginger considered: “a great place to be in those days.” He unabashedly admits throughout the documentary, “I love disasters.”

In and out of bands, many of which he created, each new group soared high and flamed out fast. As Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts comments on Ginger’s groups: “Well, ya know, you think this is fabulous, it’s gonna last forever. And then it lasts a week.”

Numerous rock drummers are in the documentary and are giddy describing their awe of Ginger, he was their inspiration to pick up the sticks – Neil Peart (Rush), Mickey Hart (The Grateful Dead), Stewart Copeland (Police), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and many more.

I’ll end here, before even getting into Ginger’s unexpected polo career and how we meet him broke and on his fourth wife at his horse ranch in South Africa. Without a doubt, Ginger Baker is a talented madman who has lived one crazy life.

You should check this out, and let me know what you think! It’s on Netflix. Just make sure the kids aren’t around, because Ginger launches lots of f-bombs and is a purveyor of bad behavior (you wouldn’t want to invite him to tea, but he’s fun to watch).