RIP Ginger Baker — Rock Legend Dead At 80

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How Did Ginger Baker Die? Rock Legend And Cream Drummer Dead At 89

Rock legend Ginger Baker died Sunday, October 6th at the age of 80. Just a month prior, his official Twitter shared news that Baker checked in to a hospital due to an unknown illness. Baker was best known as the influential drummer for the band Cream and will be remembered for embarking a new era of sound in rock music. Many also credited Baker with paving the way for other influential artists following Cream’s debut.

Baker’s family revealed he was hospitalized last month after becoming critically ill. Just a month later, his family shared the tragic news that the artist passed in a post on his official Twitter account.

The tweet reads, “We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks.”

How did Ginger Baker die?

While Baker’s official cause of death is unknown r to the public at this time, it's no secret Baker struggled with drug and alcohol abuse which may have contributed to his illness. Baker will be remembered as the iconic drummer who influenced many other artists through his unique sound and contribution to the incomparable band Cream. 

A few more details have become available:

1. It's unclear what Baker's illness was.

According to Ginger Baker's official Twitter page, the drummer was ill and put into the hospital but the tweet, which was from September, didn't go into further detail. The New York Times noted Baker faced a number of medical issues due his heroin addiction — a struggle Baker was very open about. 

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2. Baker was known for having a temper.

Baker’s thunderous temper was likely a contributing factor to Cream’s split. According to Rolling Stone, during one rehearsal, Baker launched a drumstick at his bandmate Jack Bruce's head out of frustration after he performed a lengthy solo. Later that night, a fight broke out during a set. These episodes were pretty much the norm for those who knew Baker, and many people who knew him recalled his memorable traits being two-fold: his temper and his talent. A similar instance occurred in 2012 according to a documentary called Beware of Mr. Baker. On the first day of shooting, Baker attacked director Jay Bulger with a metal cane and even broke his nose. The attack was included in the beginning of the documentary and shows Baker telling the director, "I'm going to put you in hospital!"

3. Cream was only together for two years

The band was created in 1966 but only lasted until 1968 due to member conflict and discomfort stemming from the band’s quick rise to fame. The band would consist of Jack Bruce on bass and Eric Clapton on guitar, with all three members contributing vocals. The band released four albums: Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), and Wheels of Fire (1968), and Goodbye (1969).

4. Cream was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame notes that Cream "accomplished more in two years than most do in a lifetime. The band sold 15 million records, a Grammy Hall of Fame album and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.” The band also reunited for a performance at the induction ceremony where Eric Clapton revealed in his acceptance speech that it was the first time the band played together in 25 years. The set included, "Sunshine of Your Love", "Crossroads", and "Born Under a Bad Sign".

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5. Baker battled a heroin addiction.

According to the New York Times, Baker didn’t shy away from speaking about his drug and alcohol addiction — and even spoke on the matter in his autobiography Hellraiser. In his memoir, he noted that he tried to quit heroin 29 times.

After Cream broke up, Baker started a new band called Blind Faith and while on tour, he recalled hearing a radio report that he had died from a heroin overdose.

In a 1988 San Diego Union interview, Baker said: “Charlie Parker, Ray Charles — all these wonderful people were heroin users and that influenced me. Most of my friends from my era are dead, long dead, because of drug problems. Heroin is bad news, so is cocaine. It was a bloody long battle to clean up.”

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6. Cream reunited one last time in 2005.

In 2005, the band reunited for one last time and performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London and at Madison Square Garden. However, five years later, Jack Bruce declared there wouldn’t be anymore reunion shows because the band was officially over. Baker’s knack for music didn’t end there though, because he went on to make 18 solo albums throughout his career.

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Elizabeth Ward is a writing student finishing her bachelor’s at the University of Louisville. She covers news, entertainment, relationships and everything in between.