by Robert Wilkinson
Yes, today is the birthday of one of the most famous drummers in the world, and one of the most obscure hitmakers of the mid-60s.
Ginger Baker (19 August 1939) is mainly known for his drumming with Cream and Blind Faith. He’s an extraordinary jazz drummer who went on to explore world beat and become a master of more percussion instruments than I can name here. For your enjoyment, a few moments of the great Ginger Baker!
From back in the day, Cream live and very loud performing “Sunshine of Your Love”
Also from the album Disraeli Gears, Ginger’s bizarre composition “Blue Condition”
Here’s 12 minutes of Ginger live in 1968 at the Royal Albert Hall performing his signature piece that defined the era of the drum solo, “Toad”
Here it is on the original studio album by Cream: “Toad”
That first album from 1966, “Fresh Cream,” blew a lot of doors down! For your enjoyment, the entire audio-only album Fresh CreamHere’s the full one hour video of Cream’s Farewell appearance at the Royal Albert Hall! The Cream Farewell Concert at the Royal Albert Hall 1968
Here’s Cream in September 1967 in a highly distorted 10 minute audio-only live performance of a tune Ginger wrote, “Sweet Wine,” From the same gig, “Sittin’ On Top of the World,” which we'll follow with "NSU" and finish with “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”
Here’s Ginger’s composition on the studio album “Goodbye,” “What A Bringdown”
Last year I found the entire 1968 double studio album “Wheels of Fire.” This year the whole thing can’t be found in one place, but I did find a site with all the tracks. So if you want to hear the masterpiece, you can begin here and it’ll take you to where the rest of the tracks wait for you to play them, with great gratitude and all smiles across the miles! From that album, one of the weirder songs ever done by anyone! For your enjoyment, the very strange “Pressed Rat and Warthog”
After Blind Faith, in 1970 he founded Ginger Baker’s Air Force with Stevie Winwood, Rick Gretch, Denny Laine, Ron Wood, and others. Here’s the audio-only album that shook the tree! Ginger Baker’s Air Force
Ginger then went on to be part of the Baker Gurvitz Army, where he did some pretty heavy rock! I have a few from that era. We’ll begin with some great live video clips from 1975, Memory Lane, Drum Solo, People, followed by two from the same gig, “Remember” and “Mad Jack”
Here's the audio-only studio cut from the album of the same name, “Hearts on Fire”
rom 1995, here’s a full hour show at the Deutsches Jazz Festival in Frankfurt! The Ginger Baker Trio Live at the Deutsches Jazz Festival 1995.
Here’s a great 5 minute video of Ginger titled Ginger Baker Annihilates the Drums
We'll close with a very rare 14 minute video from 1973 featuring Ginger and Art Blakey doing a drum duel! Ginger Baker and Art Blakey Drum Duo
For our encore, Ginger’s drumming in the amazing one-off group effort! I found a full one hour documentary with a live concert by Blind Faith featuring Ginger, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Rick Gretch. Simply amazing! Blind Faith Live in Hyde Park 1969
I was in awe of his drumming then, and I remain in awe of his drumming to this day.
We now turn our birthday greetings to Billy J Kramer (19 August 1943), one of the first Merseybeat singers who made it big as a result of being managed by Brian Epstein, who coincidentally was also the manager for the Beatles. The Beatles in the early 60s aspired to be a songwriting team who wrote for others as well as themselves, and gave away more than a few tunes to other acts who turned them into hits. Billy J. Kramer was one such act.
He only had a few, but they were big in the mid-60! I’ll bet some of the songs are familiar!!
Here was his first record, penned by Paul McCartney: “Do You Want To Know A Secret” On the flip side of “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” here’s the original studio version of Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas doing the early Paul McCartney tune that was obviously inspired by Buddy Holly “I’ll Be On My Way”
From Live at the BBC, here are the Beatles performing "I'll Be On My Way"
We now move to a live performance in 1965 of BJK's huge #1 hit from 1963 written by John Lennon, “Bad to Me”
Here's an interesting video of the early Beatles that may or may not be them performing this song in an informal setting. It isn't synched up very well, but it's classic footage of the Beatles seeming to perform "Bad To Me"
Here’s the original demo by John Lennon from the Summer of 1963 of “Bad To Me”
Live on Shindig in 1964, Billy J and the Dakotas doing another of their hits, also written by John Lennon! This was the B-side of “Bad to Me,” “I Call Your Name”
Here’s the Beatles’ studio version of “I Call Your Name”
Here they are live doing yet another Beatles’ tune written by John and Paul, “From A Window”
Here's the Beatles' version: "From A Window"
Now for Billy J live on UK tv in 1964 when it was all Beatles all the time, especially it seems in Birmingham! From the pen of Paul McCartney, “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”
Here’s a live television performance (in color, no less!) of his 1964 hit, the first not written by a Beatle, “Little Children”
From Shindig, a b/w video of Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas performing "Little Children."
From 1965, a live television performance of his last hit “Trains, Boats, and Planes”
Here's a brief interview on CBS Good Morning in January 2014! Billy J Kramer Interview on CBS 2014
And that’s all for today, folks!!
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson