Beware of Mr Baker

85028599Anyone who suspects that we are living through artistically uninspiring times need look no further than the ‘Beware of Mr. Baker’, the documentary of demon drummer Ginger Baker.

Baker can best be politely described as a ‘character’ and more impolitely as a total asshole.

But in a good way.

He may have abandoned several wives and spent huge amounts of money on drugs, music and horses (he’s a polo fanatic) but he has certainly not guilty of the only unforgivable sin – being boring.

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From the moment he came into the world, weeks before the beginning of the Second World War, he was the center of the action.

His war hero father died when Ginger was 4 and soon after, he began a life of petty thievery and thuggery.  When his mother told him to desist or face her wrath he stopped, only to be cut with razors by his disaffected former ‘colleagues’.

One good thing came out of it however. Baker nicked a jazz album, featuring drummer Max Roach.

It was his first exposure to the power of the drums and helped set him along a path that would eventually let him perform for his erstwhile hero in New York many years later.

In between these two events he went through 4 epic bands, 3 wives and a prodigious amount of heroin.

Every period of his life leads to some epic story.

Whether it’s leaving England at the height of his fame to live in Nigeria and jam with Fela Kuti or leaving his wife to run off with an 18 year-old friend of his daughter and live on top of a mountain in Italy, Ginger Baker is not a man who can live a quite life.

Even at 73.

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During the making of this film he contrived to assault the director with a metal cane and then get himself into such a bad financial state that he had to sell his house, his 30 horses and all his possessions to pay his debt

Of course being Ginger he quickly bounced back and went on the road, his adoring fans still chanting his name and willing him to ever-greater heights of drumming excess.

As his first wife states, the devil looks after his own.

 

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