It was with shock that the world received the news of the passing of legendary drummer, Ginger Baker on Sunday, October 6 at age 80.
Recalling his relationship with Baker, ace flutist, Tee Mac Omatsola Iseli described the deceased as a hard working percussionist. He said: “I knew Ginger Baker as a hard working drummer. He lived in Ikeja, Lagos, and would work out on his drum four to five hours a day. That is how a professional behaves. I honestly did not like him much because he kind of looked down on people and was constantly stoned.
“But when I spent a few days in his house in London and met his lovely wife and children, he became more humane to me. His heroin addiction made him loose his house, Jensen car and other investments, and I met him mid-80s again in London totally run down. I even gave him money to buy drugs because he looked very sick. Soon after, he left England for South Africa.
“When he first came to Batakoto where my band, Tee Mac and Afro Collection was based, Ginger Baker would sit there and listen to the band, and in the end pick up the drums and jam with us. Fela used to come on Friday nights before going to his own show. It was a great time and our followers enjoyed it very much.
“Later, Ginger Baker wanted to do a movie, Ginger Baker’s Safari and the band was filmed for the sound track. I realised that in the film, I was cut out, except for a few seconds because he wanted to be the only light-skinned person in the movie. Never mind, but when he signed on all members including Steve Black to form Ginger Baker and African Salt, I was very unhappy. Later on, I realised this was a great blessing because I sold my instruments and left Nigeria for the UK, then Switzerland where I formed Tee Mac United after my hit song, Fly Robin Fly. Then I set up the Silver Convention, which was named after my silver flute. Silver Convention was actually a session band. God works in mysterious ways!
“Ginger Baker would be remembered for his drumming which redefined the role of drums in rock music. He was a member of Cream alongside Eric Clapton, the popular guitarist and Jack Bruce who played bass guitar. I saw him last when I performed at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa about 10 years ago. He lived in Cape Town and was, according to him, raising horses.”