Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cream's Ginger Baker On Led Zeppelin

In a series for Forbes, writer Jim Clash risks an interview with drummer Ginger Baker.  Given that Baker can be... how to put this.... well, let's just say one interviewer referred to the interview experience with the drummer as a "professional horror show", Clash did well.

In this interview, Jim Clash dares to bring up Led Zeppelin.  Considering how Ginger Baker has trashed them (particularly John Bonham) and every other major band since Cream, this is a pretty positive response from the man.

Maybe Mr. Baker has mellowed out.

Ginger Baker (left), Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton of Cream (1966-1968)

JC: Are there bands that came from Cream’s influence you consider to be good, maybe Led Zeppelin?
GB: Jimmy’s [Page] a good player. I don’t think Led Zeppelin filled the void that Cream left, but they made a lot of money. I probably like about 5% of what they did – a couple of things were really cool. What I don’t like is the heavy bish-bash, jing-bap, jing-bash bullshit.
JC: What do you think of Zeppelin’s late drummer, John Bonham?
GB: Years ago, John said, “There are two drummers in rock and roll, Ginger Baker and me.” There’s no way John was anywhere near what I am. He wasn’t a musician. 
John Bonham, on the other hand, has said this about Ginger Baker:
"When I listen to drummers I like to be able to say "Oh! I haven't heard that before." Being yourself is so much better than sounding like anyone else. Ginger Baker's thing is that he is himself. So it's no good trying to do what he does."
~John Bonham, as quoted by his brother Mick Bonham in John Bonham: The Powerhouse Behind Led Zeppelin

And Jimmy Page himself:
I was surprised that in the recent documentary on Ginger Baker [Beware of Mr. Baker], he takes some shots at Bonham's musical ability. You just never hear other drummers making that criticism. He's usually so untouchable.
That's an interesting film, because of the way the film starts. Doesn't it start with Ginger hitting the director with a cane? I did see the film, and I know what you're talking about. I was a bit disappointed by that. His criticism was that Bonham didn't swing. I was like, "Oh, Ginger. That's the only thing that's undeniable about Bonham." I thought that was stupid. That was a really silly thing of him to say.
~ Jimmy Page, GQ Interview 2014

Jimmy Page, as depicted for GQ's "Rock God" Man of the Year 2014

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