With his interest piqued by Tony Palmer’s film ‘Ginger Baker In Africa’, director Jay Bulger set about making this excellent movie about the legendary drummer. For the viewer, the result is a reasonably balanced insight into the cantankerous Baker, while the outcome for Bulger was a broken nose, courtesy of Baker’s cane. The assault, shown at the beginning and close of the movie, bookends many interviews with Baker, his children, ex-wives, and an assortment of musicians, including drummers Stewart Copeland, Nick Mason and Neil Peart, who all cite Baker as an influence.
Baker’s story is told from his early childhood, when he lost his father in the war, through to his musical activities with Cream, Blind Faith, Fela Kuti, Airforce and others, including his geographical shifts through Africa, America and Italy, his drug use and his troubled finances. His love of jazz and animals is palpable, but his interaction with those close to him is often considerably less successful. He appears opinionated (“Bonham couldn’t swing a sack of shit”) and rude, yet when he talks of his current stepdaughter and his jazz drumming heroes, we see a man with a heart, albeit one protected by an exceptionally gruff, aggressive exterior.