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Ginger Baker: Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Drummer Paperback – July 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Like a Ginger Baker drum solo, this unique autobiography is an exhilarating adrenalin rush of drama and excitement."  —Record Collector


"Instant classic memoir."  —Mojo

About the Author

Ginger Baker was born in Lewisham, London in 1939 and brought up along with his sister and cousin by his mother and aunt. After forging his reputation on the London jazz scene, he found phenomenal success by forming Cream with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton in 1966. Ginger lives in South Africa, where he is an avid correpsondent to the letters pages of various polo publications.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake (July 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844549666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844549665
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By David K. Mulhern on April 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are reading this review, you probably already know that Ginger Baker is an extraordinary drummer, and was 1/3 of the rock group "Cream" in the 1960s.

If you are not of that generation, you may not realize how highly esteemed Ginger Baker is/was musically. Recently Charlie Watts, the drummer with the Rolling Stones, presented him with a lifetime achievement award. High praise, indeed. His music is very exciting, quite complex, powerful, athletic, often ecstatic, always passionate. He's an inspiring and wonderful musician.

This book certainly tells the story of a young man from a modest London background, growing up as a competitive cyclist, and eventually getting into drumming. We learn about his early musical experiences and training from other great jazz drummers. So it's nice to get a feeling of his musical formation (as they say, "nobody comes from nothing" -- i.e., every musician has his influences).

The musician later branches off into polo. Interesting progression of competitive, driving, physical, rhythmic activity: cycling - drumming - polo. Unusual, but one can see the connection, and that's very interesting. Throughout the book his native intelligence and wit shine through.

What is much less interesting (indeed, I ultimately found it quite dreary and depressing) is the decades of drug abuse, the failed marriages, the endless confrontations, the promiscuous sex, the legal difficulties, and the general chaos that seems to have defined Baker's life.

Don't get me wrong: I truly love his playing and I deeply admire him as a musician. But it has to be said that he has led a very hard life, largely because of his own bad choices.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By D. Caldwell on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though he likes to portray himself as a tough nut I think Eric Clapton is right in his estimation of Ginger Baker when he said according to Ginger Baker "you're not really a hard nut at all".
The book was conversational in style and gave an interesting account of a great musician and his life. Albeit a bizarre life full of giant leaps forward and giant leaps backwards!
People talk a lot about how amazing it is that Keith Richard is still alive. I'd have to say the same for Ginger Baker but even moreso!
He's not charitable to many of his peers in the music world but I suspect a lot of that is tongue in cheek. That is apart from his ongoing issues with Jack Bruce. I suspect that this relationship falls well into the category of sibling rivalry. They have produced some great recorded music together over the years and in the end this is what they will be remembered for.
One final observation. Ginger mentioned at one point that he was annoyed by Gary Moore not being able to front up to some BBM gigs because he cut his finger and he blew his ears at rehearsal.I felt the same way in the early seventies when Ginger was "taken ill in the dressing rooms" at Manchester Free Trade Hall and the Air Force concert had to be cancelled after we were all in our seats!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Kneubuhl on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As with the Keith Richards biography, there's a lot of skimming going on here. My favorite part is the earlier chapters, where Baker talks about his years right before the formation of Cream. After that, the book has more to do with Baker's preoccupation with the game of Polo than it does with music. Still, it's interesting to follow Baker's travels from England to all over Africa to the USA and then back to England, and hearing about how he always manages to get in some kind of trouble (often smack-related) wherever he goes. One weak point is that we never get to know most of the characters all that well, which is understandable since they are so many of them. When Baker does go into some detail about people he's known, Eric Clapton comes off looking like a very nice guy, while Jack Bruce gets portaryed as something of a selfish, egotistical ass. Other fascinating characters, like Graham Bond, John McLaughlin and Fela Kuti, are talked about, but not to any great depth. Baker mentions that several people have offered to write his biography, and all of them have turned out to be flakes or con artists. He finally had his daughter work on it with him, and while they do an admirable job of summarizing a 50-year career in music, the book gets slightly tedious towards the end even though there's never any shortage of drama in Baker's life. All in all, if you've got any kind of interest in Ginger Baker and/or Cream, then this is well worth reading.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nina Bennett on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have always said, much to the amusement of some of my musically inclined friends, that Ginger Baker is the greatest rock drummer ever. Now Baker says it himself-over and over and over. His memoir is as much about his polo experiences as his musical ones. He has quite a knack for being in the midst of chaos, much of it self-caused. Baker is rather open about his well-known difficulties working with Jack Bruce, which continued far beyond Cream days. He is also open about his decades-long struggle with addiction. He comes across as a self-centered spoiled brat, so my advice is to crank up Cream and remember Baker for his amazing talent on the skins.
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