[Slowhand] Ginger Baker Interview
kenneth.lam at bt.com
kenneth.lam at bt.com
Tue May 30 03:42:09 EDT 2006
In the June issue of a magazine called Music Mart, there is an interview
with Ginger Baker. Since the magazine is not widely available (only in
East Anglia of UK, I think), I have extracted the part he had to say
about Cream. I hope you guys may find it interesting.
~~~~~~~~~~ Start ~~~~~~~~~~~
[MM]: How did you first come across Jack Bruce?
[GB]: "I was doing a jazz gig at the Cambridge University May Ball in
1962, and there was another group on the bill called Jim HcHarg's
Scotsville Jazzband, and Jack was the bass player. He was standing
beside the stage going: 'Man, I want to sit in.' We were getting a bit
pissed off with him, so in the end, we let him sit in and we played a
ballad with an incredible chord sequence, just to fuck him up. And he
[MM]: What happened next?
[GB]: "Johnny Parker, the piano player, had a house in Grovesnor
Avenue, and Jack moved into this little room there. He got into the
Johnny Burch Octet with me and Dick, and then Dick and Jack joined
Alexis Korner, and Charlie Watts was the drummer. Charlie heard that I
wasn't doing a lot of work, so he left the band so that I could join. We
used to often go home on the tube together. He used to say: 'Oh man, I
don't want to get involved in music - there's no security in it.' So I
paid him back and got him the gig with The Rolling Stones."
[MM]: You got Charlie Watts the gig with the Stones?
[GB]: "Well, there was this effeminate kid who used to come to all the
Alexis Korner Band gigs. His name was Michael Jagger, and he used to
play a regular gig at the Ealing Club with Brian Jones, who was the
showman at that point. Alexis persuaded us to forego our interval and
play with Mick and Brian. I was pissed off not getting an interval, so I
said to Brian Jones - for fuck's sake, why don't you get a rhythm
section? Next week they turned up with a band, and Brian Jones came up
to me and said: 'What do you think, Ginge?' And I said: 'the fucking
drummer's awful. Why don't you get Charlie Watts?' That's how Charlie
got the gig."
[MM]: How did you meet up meeting Clapton?
[GB]: "Oh, OK, that was during the Graham Bond Organisation, which came
out of the Alexis Korner Band... With Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith,
me and Jack. And we had to lose Jack for really bad behaviour on stage,
and I got the job of firing him. He still thinks it was my idea... It
wasn't. It was after a discussion between Graham, Dick and I that we
decided he had to go."
[MM]: Why did you have to fire Jack?
[GB]: "He was shouting at people on stage - particularly me. So Graham
asked me if I'd do it, and I was a junkie at the time, and firing people
wasn't difficult at all. We were playing a gig with The Yardbirds. We
were outside having a spliff, and this young bloke came up to me and
said: 'I know you, Baker... You're not a fucking hard-nut at all.'
"I had a reputation for doffing people. It was Eric, and I got on with
him immediately. He was a really cool bloke, and he used to come and sit
in with the Graham Bond organisation."
[MM]: Were you aware of Clapton's reputation when you first met him?
[GB]: "I was totally unaware that he'd got a reputation of any
description at all, but I really liked his guitar playing. I'd been
running Graham's band for about three years, because Graham was a
lunatic. I handled all the money and ran the band, and Graham was going
in the opposite direction to me. I was trying to get straight and Graham
was trying to get fucked up, drug-wise. So I thought - What the fuck am
I doing running this band when I could get my own? So I decided to do
[MM]: How fast did things progress from there?
[GB]: "John Mayall's manager told me they were playing in Oxford, so I
drove down there. I saw them in the interval, and Eric said: 'Man, come
and sit in.' And it was total. Eric and I just took off. The gig wasn't
really happening at all, but when I sat in, Eric sort of exploded. After
the gig, I said to Eric - I'm getting a band together, would you be
interested? And he said yes straight away. Well, then Eric suggested
Jack, and I thought - 'oh no'."
[MM]: So you thought: 'Oh no... Not that Bruce again'?
[GB]: "Yeah... exactly. I spent the whole journey home with my wife
discussing whether I should talk to Jack. My wife was quite fond of
Jack, because he can be a very charming guy. When he's Dr. Jekyll, he's
fine... It's when he's Mr. Hyde that he's not. And I'm afraid he's still
the same. I tell you this - there won't ever be any more Cream gigs,
because he did Mr. Hyde in New York last year."
[MM]: In what way did Jack turn in to Mr. Hyde?
[GB]: "Oh, he shouted at me on stage, he turned his bass up so loud
that he deafened me on the first gig. What he does is that he apologises
and apologises, but I'm afraid, to do it on a Cream reunion gig, that
was the end. He killed the magic, and New York was like 1968... It was
just a get through the gig, get the money sort of deal."
[MM]: Were you shocked that things hadn't changed with him after all
[GB]: "I was absolutely amazed. I mean, he demonstrated why he got the
sack from Graham Bond and why Cream didn't last very long on stage in
New York. I didn't want to do it in the first place simply because of
how Jack was.
"I have worked with him several times since Cream, and I promised myself
that I would never work with him again. When Eric first came up with the
idea, I said no, and then he phoned me up and eventually convinced me to
do it. I was on my best behaviour and I did everything I could to make
things go as smooth as possible, and I was really pleasant to Jack."
[MM]: What were last year's shows like?
[GB]: "The Albert Hall gig was like 1966... Wonderful. And the first
night in New York, Jack became Mr. Hyde and metamorphosed into Bruce
Springsteen. He sort of took over, and he played so loud it was fucking
ridiculous. My first reaction was I wanted to throw a fucking stick at
him, which is what I used to do with the Graham Bond band. It ruined the
gig, and ruined the next two gigs as well. Anyway, we're not supposed to
be talking about this."
[MM]: Why do you think Cream was so short lived in the first place?
[GB]: "I just told you why. It just got to the point where Eric said to
me: "I've had enough of this,' and I said so have I. I couldn't stand
it. The last year with Cream was just agony. It's damaged my hearing
permanently, and today I've still got a hearing problem because of the
sheer volume throughout the last year of Cream. But it didn't start off
like that. In 1966, it was great. It was really a wonderful experience
musically, and it just went into the realms of stupid.
"Between you and I, a lot of what comes out - particularly on Cream - is
completely untrue you know. Jack Bruce and Pete Brown just tell lies all
the time. They have reinvented history. On that Classic Albums thing,
they're both lying through their teeth. It just pisses me off when I see
~~~~~~~~~~ End ~~~~~~~~~~
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