Ginger Baker, legendary rock drummer and co-founder of Cream, is ‘critically ill’

Bassist Jack Bruce, left, drummer Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton of Cream perform at their first 2005 reunion concert at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2005. Baker, who is now 80, is critically ill and has been hospitalized, according to his family.
(Yui Mok / Associated Press)

The 80-year-old drum icon has suffered from an array of medical issues in recent years, after going ‘cold turkey 29 times’ in his quest to kick his heroin addiction


Ginger Baker — one of the most famous and influential drummers in rock ‘n’ roll history — is “critically ill” and has been hospitalized, according to his family.

A Wednesday message posted on his Twitter page, @GingerBDrums, reads: “The Baker family is sad to announce that Ginger is critically ill and in hospital. Please keep him in your prayers tonight!”

Baker, 80, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 with fellow Cream members Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce at a ceremony in Los Angeles where the band reunited for a brief performance. Cream reunited only once after that, in 2005, for a few concerts in London and New York.

Baker set the standard for virtuoso drumming and extended soloing in rock with Cream. The band’s music had a worldwide impact, despite the fact that the trio was only in existence from 1966 to 1968. Bruce died in 2014 at the age of 71.

Baker was the subject of a 2013 film documentary, “Beware Of Mr. Baker,” that vividly captured his notoriously temperamental behavior.

No details about his current health or the reason for his being hospitalized have been disclosed at this time. Baker announced in 2013 that he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic back pain, as a result of, respectively, his smoking and his degenerative osteoarthritis.

He underwent open-heart surgery in 2016, four months after suffering an apparently career-ending fall at his home in England.

Baker has 18 solo albums to his credit, the most recent of which was released five years ago.

He addressed his longstanding battle with drugs in a 1988 San Diego Union interview, saying: “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.”