“A wild force of nature” is the politest description made of rock hell-raiser Ginger Baker now sadly gone, though miraculously he survived to be 80. He was the most gifted, innovative and influential drummer of his generation but also scary, threatening, difficult – “a monster-raging-crazy-loony” in John Lydon’s words. Neil McCormick in the Telegraph obituary writes: “A reputation for personal unpleasantness dogged him. A savagely entertaining 2012 documentary, Beware of Mr Baker, portrayed him as unrepentantly rude, obnoxious, angry, arrogant and prone to explosive violence. His first wife (and the mother of his three children) Elizabeth Finch, once said, “If a plane went down and there was one survivor, it would be Ginger. The devil takes care of his own.”
He struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, quitting heroin 29 times before managing to stay clean. In later years he had a degenerative spine condition and emphysema as well as a heart condition.
He was born 19 August 1939 in London with his RAF father dying in the war when he was four, began playing drums at 15, founded Cream with Eric Clapton and was the first to play explosive drum solos. His hugely talented and self-destructive career is littered with split relationships – professional as well as personal – four marriages – and failed business ventures.
His chart was extraordinarily volatile and complicated. An entertaining Sun Venus in Leo was in a rebellious square to Uranus. Uranus was in an Earth Grand Trine to Mars in Capricorn trine Neptune – attracting him to showbusiness and business though clearly with variable results since he lost millions through fraud, miscalculation or plain waste. His Pluto was in a do-or-die-determined opposition to Mars in a very hard square to Saturn – hence the cruel streak – and perhaps Saturn was opposition a Libra Moon. A Cardinal Grand Cross would give him a life of revolving dramas and crises. And last not but least his Pluto was trine Jupiter in pro-active Aries.
You have to admire the sheer brazen, defiant exuberance of him plus all that talent which rippled down to those who followed after him – even if he was a nightmare to be near.