Born in South East London the same week the Nazis began bombing, Ginger Baker’s first memory was running after a train that carried his father off to death in WWII. From his music to his life, at the expense of family and fortune, Ginger would never be left behind on the tracks again.
Though best known for his work with Eric Clapton in Cream and Blind Faith, the world’s greatest drummer did not hit his stride until years later in 1972 when he drove the first Range Rover ever produced from London to Nigeria in pursuit of the African rhythms and musical icon, Fela Kuti. There he found his Mecca of drumming, introducing the African beat and “world music” to the West, years before any other musicians in the field.
Unfortunately, Ginger’s African glory days were short-lived as he found himself looking down the barrel of a Nigerian officer’s machine gun. Signaling his departure from the continent and the loss of his fortune, Ginger returned to England where a pattern of divorces, self-destruction, and countless groundbreaking musical works continue on to Italy, California, Colorado, and current day South Africa where he lives inside a fortified compound with his 29-year-old internet bride and 39 polo ponies.
Chain smoking and ingesting copious amounts of morphine while sitting in his leather recliner, the 73-year-old reflects back on his life as we concurrently witness his current law suits, local disputes, and yet another chapter in his path of destruction. Unfortunately, Ginger’s ginger hair has faded, and we wonder if he is physically capable of saving himself by playing the instrument that has defined him. In his own words, “God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and in as much pain as he can. I wasn’t planning on living this long!” In true Ginger Baker fashion, 3 years into shooting the film, after squandering yet another fortune, Ginger Baker triumphantly returns to the stage. As he went on a 30 date sold out European tour, we were there to capture it.
The documentary includes stories from his ex-wives, children, and many of the greatest living musicians that worked with Ginger including Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, Mickey Hart, Carlos Santana, Max Weinberg, Chad Smith, Femi Kuti, Neal Peart, Simon Kirke, Marky Ramone and many more.
This documentary is one such story – a marriage of the film and music worlds through the life of one of the most unforgettable and controversial musicians. He was there the night Jimi Hendrix died, shared the drugs, the music, the names, the groups, while stripping away the other voices as the conductor, time keeper, the master drummer of our time. Beware of Mr. Baker catapults the viewer into his beat – with every smash of the bass drum there is a man behind it smashing his way through life.