Ginger Baker’s Drumming Brilliance Shines in Isolated ‘Disraeli Gears’ Performance

by Madonna

When it comes to passionate debates about the title of “best drummer of all time,” a few legendary names invariably emerge. In the world of jazz, the discussions often revolve around luminaries like Buddy Rich and Art Blakey. However, in the realm of rock ‘n’ roll, the focus often shifts to the psychedelic and prog rock eras, where the holy trinity of British drumming talent reigns supreme: Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and Ginger Baker of Cream.

These three exceptionally gifted drummers shared the stage with iconic instrumentalists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, yet they managed to establish themselves as prominent figures in their own right.


During a guest appearance on Amazon’s motoring show, “The Grand Tour,” in 2018, two legendary drummers, Stewart Copeland of The Police and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, engaged in a debate about who deserved the title of the greatest drummer of all time. Mitchell emerged as the winner in their estimation.


Copeland, interjecting into the conversation, exclaimed, “Well, that’s the travesty right there,” when the host, Jeremy Clarkson, introduced Mitchell to the audience as “Jimi Hendrix’s drummer.” Copeland went on to assert, “Well, how would you describe him?” Clarkson, clearly perplexed, asked for clarification, to which Copeland confidently replied, “Well, Jimi was Mitch’s guitarist.”


According to Copeland and Mason, Mitchell narrowly edged out Ginger Baker in their personal drumming “hierarchy” – a hierarchy they had discussed during a meal the night before the show. In a 2022 interview with Far Out, Copeland discussed his drumming influences and mentioned the holy trinity of drumming.

“It was all Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell then, and Bonham came later,” Copeland reflected. “I liked the fact that Ginger used his tom-toms a lot. He was playing more of his drums than the others, as was Mitch Mitchell, who was probably the most inspiring out of all of them.”

As Copeland noted, these three late drumming legends continue to be revered because each of them brought their own innovative style to the drums, infusing their playing with distinctive personalities. Mitchell and Baker, in particular, incorporated syncopation and ride cymbal patterns reminiscent of bebop and other advanced forms of jazz, with Baker infusing African rhythms into his drumming.

In his memoir, “Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Drummer,” Ginger Baker recalled that John Bonham once suggested that there were only two drummers in British rock ‘n’ roll: Bonham himself and Ginger Baker, completely overlooking Mitchell. However, Baker, true to his modest nature, was not one to equate himself to others, let alone consider them superior.

Baker humorously remarked on Bonham’s comment, saying, “John Bonham once made a statement that there were only two drummers in British rock ‘n’ roll: himself and Ginger Baker. My reaction to this was: ‘You cheeky little bastard!'”


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