It’s difficult to fully convey the importance of Ginger Baker’s output during the ’60s with Cream and later with Blind Faith. He wasn’t just one of the greatest drummers of his era — he forever changed the face of rock music. Baker’s love of jazz brought an improvisational flavor to rock drumming that was unheard of during the early ’60s with the likes of Ringo and Charlie. To be fair, so did Baker’s contemporary, Mitch Mitchell, with Jimi Hendrix. But Baker also integrated his appreciation of African music and heavy use of toms, which introduced a tribal element to rock that still lingers to this day. He has played with a wide variety of rock and jazz artists over the years, as well as releasing a number of albums as a solo artist, but the following examples of his drumming in the ’60s demonstrate his ongoing influence.
On Cream’s song “Spoonful,” we hear Baker imply a slow jazz groove over this blues classic. He breaks up his cymbal pattern and punctuates his kicks with his bass drum, though as is characteristic of a lot of recordings from the era, it’s a little hard to make out the bass drum at times. Sometimes the incomplete sounding fills, where he pauses just before an accent, like in the first measure of the fourth line, add even more impact to the following note.
The simple boogaloo drum groove on this classic song is just as popular today as it was then. The main differences are the seemingly random variations and the heavy dose of swing Baker adds to his groove.