Ginger Baker, Legendary Drummer With Band Cream, Dies at 80

Baker was known as “rock’s first superstar drummer”

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Ginger Baker, the celebrated drummer and co-founder of the British powerhouse rock band Cream, has died in a U.K. hospital, his official Twitter account announced Sunday. He was 80.

“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,” the tweet reads.

“Dad passed away peacefully,” his daughter Nettie Baker told CNN in a statement. “He was in no pain and had recently been able to see and speak to his children, close family and special friends.”

Baker’s family had announced in a tweet on Sept. 25 in a tweet that he was critically ill and in the hospital.

Paul McCartney was among the many who offered their condolences.

Steve Winwood – who played with him Baker’s Air Force — wrote in a lengthy post on his website, in part, ” A loss also for his contribution to music. He was well-grounded in jazz from very early on, and later managed to combine this with African and rock music to create his own inimitable style of playing… Beneath his somewhat abrasive exterior, there was a very sensitive human being with a heart of gold.”

Flea wrote on Instagram, “So much freedom in his playing. What a wildman. Rhythms we’ve hear all our lives he plucked them out of the sky. Rest In Peace Ginger Baker.”

Born in South London on Aug. 19, 1939 as Peter Baker, he started drumming at the age of 15. In 1960, he first met bassist Jack Bruce, and the duo would later join forces to form Cream where. That legendary ’60s band established the trio as superstars, with he emerged as one of rock’s greatest drummers. After the band’s split in 1968 — due to Baker and Bruce’s notoriously volatile relationship — Baker and Clapton formed the supergroup Blind Faith with Family bassist Ric Grech and Steve Winwood from Traffic on keyboards and vocals. The band released one self-titled album before breaking up.

In 2005, Cream reunited for shows in New York City and London, which were later released.

Baker’s drumming style influenced a number of other genres, including hard rock, metal and jazz fusion.

In recent years, Baker’s health has slowed him down. In 2016, he underwent open-heart surgery and was injured in a fall while recovering. He also had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after he had spent most of years as a heavy smoker, and also had degenerative osteoarthritis.

Baker is survived by his wife, Kudzai Baker, and three children: Nettie, Leda Baker and Kofi.