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Published: 2013/10/15

Ginger Baker Disses The Rolling Stones, The Who in New Interview

Photo by Dino Perrucci

Ginger Baker didn’t have too many good things to say about The Rolling Stones, or anyone for that matter, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. The former Cream drummer told the magazine that he did not consider the legendary English rockers to be good musicians or songwriters.

When asked if he’d seen The Stones on their recent 50 and Counting Tour, Baker responded, “You’re joking right?” The drummer continued, saying “I mean Charlie is a great friend of mine. I think the world of Charlie [Watts]. When I was living in the States, Charlie came to see me at my house and he said, ‘I’d give you some tickets but I know you would never go!’ I won’t go within 10 miles of a Rolling Stones gig.”

When asked to elaborate, Bakes explained that, “They’re not good musicians, that’s why. The best musician in the Stones is Charlie by a country mile.” He also noted that he did not consider them be good songwriters either.

Later in the interview, Baker also stated that he was not a fan of The Who, saying “I knew Pete Townshend’s dad better than I knew Pete Townshend. I worked with Pete Townshend’s dad in the early Sixties and late Fifties. Keith Moon was a friend of mine but I wouldn’t say he was a great drummer.”

When asked if he was a big Bob Dylan fan, Baker explained that he was “not a big anybody fan.” He later noted that he does like a few girl singers such as “Kelly Rowland, Emeli Sandé.”

Baker recently wrapped up a residency at The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City with his new band Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, which features saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth and percussionist Abbas Dodoo.


There are 36 comments associated with this post

Alex Haulman October 15, 2013, 12:53:44

Just lost a ton of respect for Ginger Baker. No wonder Cream broke up. His ego is just way too big!

Blooby October 15, 2013, 12:59:23

Has anybody checked out the recent documentary on him yet? I can’t decide whether I want to see it as it will either be very amusing or very depressing.

Bob October 15, 2013, 13:02:35

Get Dave Brock of Hawkwind to talk about Ginger Baker. Wish I had recorded his rant when I heard him in 20 or so years ago talk him, but the jist is he thought Ginger Baker was great drummer and lousy human being. I am leaving out the swearing.

Wes Carter October 15, 2013, 13:02:45

I guess he has a right to be a dick, but that doesn’t change anything. He’s still a dick.

spikenyc October 15, 2013, 14:03:50

No surprise here.
I’ve heard from people in the biz that have worked with him that he is a douche.
Also, his comments about Charlie being the best musician in the Stones is no revelation either. Keef admits it all the time about Charlie being the best, intelligent musician in the group. See Keef’s book.
Too bad Ginger still seems to have sour grapes about all these great musicians.

third of never October 15, 2013, 14:14:02

He can’t make headlines with his music so he has to do it with douchery.

Chucky cheese string October 15, 2013, 14:32:55

F him. Cream is bummer music anyway, and so is he!!

Chucky cheese string October 15, 2013, 15:11:03

.....and how can a professional drummer say Keith Moon was not a great drummer??

Ginger Baked-her October 15, 2013, 15:16:43

LOL – this coming form the man who penned “Pressed Rat and Warthog” (Baker, Taylor), “

rob October 15, 2013, 15:17:12

love me some Cream, but his new “Jazz Confusion” is exactly that. when playing jazz, he has about as much swing as a pair of sneakers in a wash machine.

shaboodles October 15, 2013, 15:21:18

lets face it… hes not so far off in some of his opinions… as a musician I would imagine he has some other factors into what makes a great musician besides being famous (who, stones , dylan) and writing uncomplicated rock songs 90% of which are in 4/4 and have 3-6 chords

dk70 October 15, 2013, 15:31:38

Clapton wanted nothing to do with him when Cream broke up. He was heartbroken when he started Blind Faith with Winwood and saw Ginger on the drums. Read his book. As far as dissing the Stones goes, time signatures and the number of chords have nothing to do with the level of quality in songcraft. What do you want danceable rock in 5/4, 7/8? Its all about the muse, baby!

quillis October 15, 2013, 15:33:17

his trio albums with haden and frisell are great

Pete October 15, 2013, 15:44:12

Ginger has the same crotchedly demeanor as did Buddy Rich! Perhaps it goes along wiht being so accomplished in drumming….in both gents they march to their own beat. I once tried shaking Buddy Rich’s hand. He shot me a look like he wanted to break my neck.

dk70 October 15, 2013, 15:58:54

I’d be like eff you Ruddy Bitch!

A Ginger October 15, 2013, 16:42:13

Go watch the documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker”. I have seen it twice now, very entertaining. He can be pretty bitter and certainly speaks his mind. He’s fairly broke since Jack Bruce gets credit for writing most of Cream’s songs (melodies) even though Ginger arranged them giving them their time signitures. It also didn’t help he blew tons of money on polo horses.

adks12020 October 15, 2013, 17:01:40

@rob – you are so right in saying “love me some Cream, but his new “Jazz Confusion” is exactly that. when playing jazz, he has about as much swing as a pair of sneakers in a wash machine.” check this video out. I wouldn’t believe he was a professional drummer if I didn’t know who he is. It sounds like a high school jazz ensemble drummer. Looks like he shouldn’t be talking smack about anyone.

mean October 15, 2013, 18:11:39

Is it me or are drummers the meanest musicians in bands? This is a generalization

Cal October 15, 2013, 19:06:58

Long live ginger!!! love Ginger ,Bill ward and neil peart.

Chris October 15, 2013, 20:15:40

Elvin Jones after hearing Keith Moon: “See there, where the tempo started to die, how he picked it up? The man is a drummer. Everything they play, he contains it.” Elvin Jones after hearing Ginger Baker: “Nothin’ happenin. Cat’s got delusions of grandeur with no grounds. They should make him an astronaut and lose his ass.”

mb October 15, 2013, 21:27:52

If that is a direct quote from Elvin Jones then that’s priceless. Makes me wonder if he ever really listened to the Who or the Stones. Sad to hear him sound so bitter.

Dave October 15, 2013, 21:31:18

What he says about the Stones is pretty true. The rhythms section and keyboardist Chuck Leavell are better than the guitarists, but it’s fun to watch Keith and Ron go through the motions anyway.

Larry E. Johnson October 16, 2013, 04:22:17

As the Godfather of Soul, James Brown said,
“Give the drummer some”. More than any other
percussionist of his generation, Ginger Baker deserves
credit and respect for bringing the drums into the
limelight as a full fledged musical solo instrument in their
own right, not merely as the instrument of a minor sideman time keeper.
He did for the rock generation what Gene Krupa
accomplished in the swing era of the thirties by unleashing
the power, flash and complexity of drumming in an
exciting musical context. To analyze the intricate
polyrhythms, speed, brilliant stick control and dexterity of
Ginger Baker’s playing is proof of his percussive genius.
The varied tonal colors and timbres displayed in his playing
are multi-dimensional. While his solos with Cream
(Toad) and Blind Faith (Do What You Like) are a breathtaking
tour de force, listen to his impeccable sense of
taste with wire brushes on ‘Can’t Find my Way Home’
and subdued presence on ‘Had to Cry Today’.
The refreshing shadings and rock steady ‘lock it in
the pocket’ Greenwich Mean time foundation are
the very essence of drumming. Today ‘World Music’
or cross-cultural hybrids are in. Ginger Baker was years
ahead of his time with his incorporation of African
rhythms in Air Force and later ventures. I had the chance to catch Mr. Baker last night
and he is still quite capable of mesmerizing
an audience. He is a drummer’s drummer and
always plays refreshing musical licks. I tend to agree with his observations about the
vandal Keith Moon not being very musical,
and place him well ahead of repetitious thirty
second note soloists like Neil Peart, Phil Collins
and John Bonham.
Ginger Baker is at the percussive pinnacle with
Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience,
Michael Shreve of Santana, ELP’s Carl Palmer, Carmine
Appice and Billy Cobham. I knew Buddy Rich and held him in awe as the
greatest drummer who ever drew breath and the
intensity of his personality and anger was just as
explosive as his playing. Just remember, it is the
drummer’s duty to “Boot ‘Em in the Ass”! Ginger Baker is still the man. ‘Nuff said! Larry E. Johnson

larry! October 16, 2013, 09:35:16

@ADKS: wow, that was painful to watch.
Check this out in comparison:

ginger genius!!! October 16, 2013, 14:04:40

Ginger Baker hit the nail on the head regarding the stones! They fuckn Suck!! Charlie Watts is not a great drummer! They are not great songs by far. I will tellu that they are the most overrated band in RnRoll history!! His documentry is fuckn awesome!!! You see the “real” ginger!! I do believe that keith moon was a great drummer though!! You won’t catch me at a stones concert I tell u that much!! Hopefully he made up with his son another great drummer!!

Chucky cheese string October 16, 2013, 15:41:20

@ginger genius – the Stones suck? C’mon! how can you say that?

JerZGooner October 16, 2013, 16:49:48

“Get off of my lawn!” [shakes fist] — Ginger Baker

mb October 16, 2013, 21:11:49

The Stones have created more than their share of memorable music. You don’t have to be a great musician to write a great song. See Robert Zimmerman. Judging musicianship is less subjective than judging song writing. That said, in a hundred years the Stones will still be referenced. Ginger Baker will be a footnote.

Ay yo October 22, 2013, 00:11:12

Tony Allen and Ginger Baker. I’ll take this over The Stones, The Who, or Dylan every time. Not even close.

dk70 October 22, 2013, 10:57:41

Ginger knows everyone hates him because he is a crazy jerk. Years ago he was literally thrown out of Wetlands Preserve; Best club in NYC and he has to come in and act like a malicious lunatic.
True story.

timmy October 23, 2013, 19:31:43

Ginger Baker was a great drummer, and Cream was a great band. Big deal. He’s a cynical old coot. The Stones and The Who are classic bands, and very good musicians. You cannot tell me that Townshend, Richards, and Moon aren’t great musicians. Keith Moon is one of the greatest drummers of his time.

cosmicbein October 25, 2013, 00:57:27

Cocaine is a very powerful drug!
Never be another Ginger Baker,enjoy my peeps.

Ron October 26, 2013, 14:46:38

The guy sounds like a dick.
No wonder he doesn’t have a net worth like Keith Richards or Clapton.
I wouldn’t work for him even if he asked.
What an idiot.

Scott November 4, 2013, 16:07:35

Baker is talking like an elitiest jazz musician. Trouble is, he doesn’t have anywhere near those chops to be that arrogant. The Stones, Beatles, Who, and even Led Zeppelin aren’t great technical musicians and never claimed to be. They were inspired songwriters who were competant on their instruments and had great overall vibe.

Scott January 21, 2014, 08:55:39

For background purposes, I’ve been drumming for 30 plus years, focusing on jazz for the past 15. Personally I feel Ginger Baker is the most over-rated drummer of all time. When I was younger and didn’t “get it“regarding Ginger Bakers “greatness”, I thought I’d understand when my skill level improved. I’m still waiting to get it. Mind you I didn’t need an extra second to get the greatness of John Bonham, Clive Bunker, Stewart Copeland etc.

Ed November 24, 2014, 06:58:37

Elvin Jones panned Baker in an old Rolling Stone Mag interview and praised Moon for his time keeping.

Phil April 2, 2015, 03:38:52

Actually Ginger is 100% correct. Non of the stones are good musicians except Charlie. No doubt they have written a few great songs at the right moment but most of the stuff is filler bs. Thanks to Jagger milking the band for 50 years that alone gives them such status as “the “ rock n roll band but really compared to real players they do suck.

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