Monday, October 07, 2019

Ginger Baker was the Stirling Moss of drumming

Following the death of Ginger Baker I asked on Twitter if there were any famous drummers left.

People replied with their nominations.

There were the obvious ones such as Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts.

Then there were names like Jim Keltner, who are known to people who study album credits.

Somebody pointed out that in the world of metal the drummer still had a certain celebrity.

But still the overwhelming majority of names came from the 60s and the 70s. This seemed to recognise the fact that the drummer hasn't had the same level of fame since the invention of automated percussion.

Ginger Baker was on the front page of The Times today, which is some indication of how famous he was. I think he was even quite well known amongst people who had never knowingly heard him.

He was the first celebrity drummer I can remember apart from Dave Clark and Dave didn't really count. Ginger was the first person I remember who did solos rather than breaks.

He also looked like a drummer, which I think is very important. He always played as if he felt his place was in the front line rather than at the back.

In the years when he was no longer in the spotlight it was impossible to talk for long about drumming without mentioning his name. The expression "like Ginger Baker" was a term widely understood.

People who drive fast are still regularly likened to Stirling Moss, who stopped driving in 1962.

Ginger Baker was to the drums what Stirling Moss was to racing cars.

That's a very special kind of immortality.


  1. Would that make Charlie Watts the Graham Hill?

  2. Other than Starr and Watts, Mick Fleetwood is probably the most famous, if not the most lauded.

  3. Is it possible I saw Airforce on the same bill as CSN at the Albert Hall back in 1969

  4. I suppose rock drummers, like rock stars, have become less about cars in pools, and more about ensuring ones media profile is controlled to the nth degree.
    Zak Starkey, Stephen Morris, Nicki McBrain, Philip Selway, to name but very very few are all extraordinary drummers. But they just don’t (perhaps?) feel the need to walk the unmarked paths that their heroes did. Just finished reading Mark Ellen and Sylvia Patterson’s books, two wonderful souls that straddles both the old and the new guards (as well as a few guess in between), and it’s striking how from about .. i don’t know, 2001 onwards the rock stars became product and therefore, disposable (harsh, but true). Mind you I think the Beatles themselves probably saw themselves as disposable at the beginning. Who knew.
    Thanks for being one of the faces on the goggle box and names at the bottom of reviews throughout my life David!