Revolutionary rock drummer Ginger Baker, best known as a co-founder of Cream, has died after being hospitalized for a critical illness, his family announced Sunday morning. Baker was 80 years old.
“Dad passed away peacefully,” Ginger’s daughter Nettie Baker told CNN. “He was in no pain and had recently been able to see and speak to his children, close family and special friends.”
The Baker family first revealed that Ginger was “critically ill in hospital” in late September, declining to specify the exact nature of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s illness. A few days later, they offered the update that Baker was “holding his own” and receiving visitors in the hospital. Baker’s death follows years of struggles with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative osteoarthritis, and heart problems that led to open heart surgery in 2016.
Baker first rose to prominence as a member of blues-jazz outfit Graham Bond Organization, later approaching Eric Clapton with the idea of starting a rock ‘n’ roll band: Cream, the power trio rounded out by Jack Bruce and generally credited as rock’s first “supergroup.” Baker performed with Cream until their dissolution in 1968, later forming short-lived supergroup Blind Faith with Clapton, touring and recording with Ginger Baker’s Air Force and Ginger Baker’s Energy, and performing with Hawkwind, Atomic Rooster, Masters of Reality and Public Image, among other acts.
Cream were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Baker, still going strong, formed The Ginger Baker Trio in 1994, re-teaming with Bruce in BBM that same year.
Baker and the rest of Cream reunited for a series of 2005 shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Madison Square Garden—the former shows were recorded and released as a live album, Royal Albert Hall: London May 2-3-5-6 2005. A year later, Cream were presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Baker’s autobiography Hellraiser was published in 2009, and he was the subject of acclaimed 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker.
Baker is survived by his three children, Nettie, Kofi and Leda.
Listen to a 1968 Cream performance from the Paste archives below.