Ginger Baker will be forever remembered as one of the most talented percussionists of all time. A serial agitator and a virtuoso player. Put simply, he was a drumming genius with a short fuse.
So we’ve chosen to remember Mr. Baker the only way it takes, as the fire-breathing dragon on drums. Hear those drums on the isolated drum track of Cream’s flagship song, “White Room.”
The track, ‘White Room’, is taken from rock legends Cream and composed by bassist and one of the preeminent artists of the 60s, Jack Bruce with lyrics provided by poet Pete Brown. An intoxicating combination of Baker’s beat and Eric Clapton’s guitar made the band an irresistible proposition and they all fused together on this song.
‘White Room’ was recorded for the heavily hedonistic studio half of the 1968 double album Wheels of fire. While the other showcased the band’s supreme talents live, something no one could argue with, it was Baker’s flames on the kit that were especially hot in front of a crowd.
Baker always found a way to deliver powerful performances when in 1967 the band sat down at the start of sessions to create the then unnamed “White Room” inside the studio. The studio time in London, which served as the conductor for the band’s many talents, was loaded with musical tension and therefore took longer than most.
The song was completed in 1968 at Atlantic Studios in New York. He shocked through the speakers of everyone who heard him, so all-encompassing was the sound.
Cream, more than most, really represented a high form of rock and roll. They weren’t broomstick types of British invasion, they were serious, methodical, mercurial musicians. The group consisted of an incredible array of talents who all seemed determined to push each other and excel.
Throughout the decade, you could say, the studio was arguably one of the most daunting places musically. So when the band sat down to record ‘White Room’, Ginger was confronted by Jack Bruce on bass and vocals and the legendary Eric Clapton on guitar. He would have to rely on his extensive training and unstoppable spirit to match the squad.
Ginger Baker is on drums what Eric Clapton is on guitar, and if you’ve ever doubted Baker’s ability to handle the challenge in this story, you’re completely wrong.
Baker delivers an unstoppable performance with the sticks. Not only did he use his impeccable timing and frantic speed to move the song forward, but he also used his jazz debut to deliver a notable moment in modern percussion rock history by adding his quirky timing to the intro of the song.
While Clapton used his wah-wah pedal to create a “talking effect,” Baker added the distinctive 5 4 or quintuple opening to what had been a 4 4 or common beat composition. It’s a revolutionary moment in rock.
This added more gravity to the song’s composition and the impressionistic detail of the group’s swirling sound. Most importantly, he continued the legend of a South East London drummer. As personal issues swirled through her life, even becoming the subject of a gripping documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, he is undoubtedly a leading figure in the rock scene and an icon of the rock and roll lifestyle.
Below, get a taste of the late Ginger Baker and his isolated drums for Cream’s “White Room”.