The drummer Ginger Baker thought was terrible

Ginger Baker

The British blues scene quickly became louder and louder as the 1960s started to pick up steam. Cream was becoming one of the top acts of the day, blending pop, rock, blues, and jazz elements into a unique musical concoction every time they performed. This set them apart from the more mainstream music of groups like The Beatles. Ginger Baker wasn’t one to hold back while performing, even though they destroyed every place they performed.

Baker, a jazz musician, produced some of the era’s most vibrant percussion through his intense approach to drumming. His incredible drum breaks on songs like “Toad” showcased his mastery and innovation in the realm of percussion. In “Sunshine of Your Love,” his treatment of the tom-toms created a heavy bed for the rest of the track. It sounded like a plodding monster in two speakers, even without the drums being overly flashy.

But an equally powerful band was rising to replace Cream after their breakup in the late 1960s. Led Zeppelin emerged as the next big musical force in the British music scene after Jimmy Page left The Yardbirds. They elevated the blues to epic levels with songs like “Dazed and Confused” and “Communication Breakdown.”

Page may have been the band’s baby, but John Bonham was the true force behind the ensemble. When “Bonzo” arrived next to Robert Plant, he charged the drum kit like a savage beast, wreaking havoc behind the kit during drum solos like “Moby Dick.” As talented as he was, Bonham also exhibited tasteful restraint, waiting a long time before launching into “Stairway to Heaven.”

Baker thought Bonham’s style was disgusting, even though he was praised as the logical next step for rock and roll percussion. Baker was blunt about Bonham’s style of drumming when discussing his performance. He said to Forbes, “John used to say that there are two drummers in rock and roll: me and Ginger Baker.” John was not even close to being who I am. He wasn’t a performer.

Additionally, Baker didn’t believe Zeppelin ever performed to Cream’s level back then. Baker’s taste inclined toward a small portion of their work, though he believed they had a respectable sound.

However, Baker’s criticism of Bonham for not being a legitimate musician downplays the inventiveness that even at his best moments was present. Looking through Zeppelin’s discography reveals that Bonham was a student of every musical genre that was present. He went to the extent of using more than two sticks to achieve a particular sound or playing drum solos with his hands.

Despite Baker’s claims that he was a musician only in the theoretical sense, Bonham’s natural sense of rhythm was more than sufficient. In the song “Kashmir,” he delved into a 4/4 groove while the rest of the band played in ¾. He also adopted the infamous “Purdie shuffle” for the iconic “Fool in the Rain.” Although Baker deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of rock drumming. Bonham’s influence on rock in less than ten years has surpassed Baker’s in the eyes of the general public.

  1. Meet General Public. 1st, Zeppelin was not a blues band and the songs mentioned are way more heavy metal. 2nd, they’re entirely different bands. Even though Cream broke up faster than a Taylor/Burton marriage, the musicians and their legacy stand the test of time.

    Baker has been at the top of drummer mountain for 60 years. He hits maybe 3 beats and you know it’s Ginger. No one has surpassed him. No one.

    As for Cream, they were a 100′ diameter cherry bomb with a long fused that eventually had to go boom. Again, No one has played at their extreme intensity, night after night, for 6 straight months, more than once, ever, not close, except maybe the very early pre 63 Beatles. They gave until there was nothing left to give. Then boom. When these guys felt good, you were going to go on a 2 hour Interstellar journey. Me; I’ve never returned from it.

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