Ginger Baker’s inside story continued…

The Graham Bond Organisation

Dad had a gig in Brighton with GBO and so we went and Dad and Mum went and stayed at their friends for the night.  Liz, Howard and Moi were on their way on foot to the venue but unsure of its whereabouts having failed to get clear directions beforehand. But then my mother espied some splashes of vomit at intermittent intervals along the route and suggested they follow these, which sure enough belonged to Ginger and led them to the gig. This story is always told with humour but in fact it shows how established and accepted my father’s heroin habit had become. He had obviously had ‘a fix’ prior to the gig to help him play well; but was it also to mask stage-fright and the stress of coping with a social situation? After a fix, a junkie will often throw up and so there we all were already caught up in the dark myths of our own story.

 

I’m sure that many times drugs played a major part in the many arguments my parents had, though of course in my earliest memories it was just upset at ‘bad feeling’ I had no idea what it meant or what had caused it. Later I came to understand what would set off the carnage and that in some was ways was worse because I knew where it was headed and where it would end; in violence. Mum would get black eyes and use the old chestnut excuse that she’d ‘walked into a door.’ She sported other bruises too. Yet she says now ‘I gave as good as I got’ and fondly remembers an incident when they were beating each other with lumps of wood when naked. In fights with his current wife my Dad says, ‘it’s just like Liz and I’. To them alone it is some warped expression of love.

 

Drug problems were of course at the root of many disagreements and the use of drugs made everything more emotional and certainly darker. During the Graham Bond years, my father made his first of many attempts to get straight and took me with him ‘up to London’ to Wimpole street to see the doctor who prescribed to many addicts, Lady Frankau. We waited for the bus that day on Neasden Lane where a low brick wall borders the shrub filled garden of a square and wholly unremarkable apartment block.

 

Dad held my hand as I walked along the length of the wall, then sat me on his shoulders at the bus-stop where we sang ‘bus, bus hurry up’ together. He was excited at the prospect of collecting his script and getting high. Yet he maintains that after Lady Frankau had praised me as a ‘beautiful child’ he looked at my face and ditched the precious script on the way home. He then came home and attempted to do a tour of the North whilst going ‘cold turkey.’ When he returned he went back to Lady Frankau and asked for help to withdraw using a process he tried on every occasion he got ‘messed up’ again. The difficulties of withdrawal and stresses of running a band and dealing with family life only increased the conflict at home.

6 thoughts on “Ginger Baker’s inside story continued…

  1. I can relate to your Dad’s habits, it took me on a downward spiral and I couldn’t play without the “courage” either or, do most anything else. The psychotic episodes of violence and frustration from those days still haunt me. I commend Ginger for sticking it out and you as his family for sticking with him as well. It’s hard. Most family members will abandon such people here in the States or coddle them toward suicide. I’m glad to see that good has come has come to you and your family after all this. Your Dad has always been an inspiration to me as a musician and now you give hope of family unity one day. God Bless You All and Keep You Well.

  2. Hi Tere for 40 yrs Gingr Baker has been in my opion the Bst drummer in the hstory of R/R.. Hes a genius and has influeneced many of the greats to follow Neil Peart, Dave Abruzizzi etc . I would love yo see/meet him Is he playing anywhere in Cali in 11? Thanks tell Him he made my teenage young adult life so happy and magical
    the backdrop to my life.. and continues to

  3. Seven of us saw Ginger at the Musical Instrument Museum on October 18th. He was wonderful beyond compare. I wished he would have played all night. Thank you Mr. Baker for bringing you & your music to phoenix.

  4. Mr.Baker, Ginger, I see a man loving his dogs and taking care of them,loving them all the way, even when they’re old and sick.
    Same thing with his horses.
    Oh, and he likes playing drums, that to 😉

  5. Just came upon this web site after watching that great documentary that was recently released “Beware of Mr Baker”. I saw Ginger with Cream at the Filmore in 1968. The band played throughout the week, which allowed me to catch their act twice. The shows were transcendent. I’ve never seen such drumming. Ginger had a lyrical quality to his rhythms that’s beyond analysis. Even as a 18 year old kid I new I was witnessing something special. If anyone turned me onto Jazz, it was Mr Baker. Thanks Ginger for it all….God Bless!

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