Home > Set Lists > Damn Few Left…

Damn Few Left…

So Jack and Justin and I played Hardly Strictly Bluegrass yesterday and it was a glorious hang. This post is not about that. I’ll get to that later. This is to note and reflect on the passing of Ginger Baker. What Ginger, Jack and Eric did with Cream changed my life in a profound way. The musicianship was off the charts, of course, but it was more than that. In my opinion, no one transliterated the work of the acoustic blues masters into an electric format better than Cream, and I’m not even talking about their originals. They invented that stuff, so thanks guys… muchly appreciated.

My ex, Margareta and Ginger and I found ourselves staying at the Landmark hotel… yep, the same one where Janis checked out. 2001, A Space Odyssey was just opening on Hollywood Blvd. Margareta and I had just purchased Manley P. Hall’s massive book on the Rosicrucians at an antique book store up the street. We dropped that tome off a our room, snagged Ginger Baker and headed for the movies. No one had ever seen anything like 2001 before and we made sure we were properly chemically prepared for that visual adventure. Everything was a psychedelic melange of sensations but I have a vague and colorful memory that Randy California of Spirit was also in the audience and that he got out of his seat and walked into the screen. As Pete Seeger would say, ‘Wasn’t that a time?’

I’m not saying that Ginger and I were buds… I’m not sure he had buds in the traditional sense, but we did hang together for a couple of minutes back there in Hollywood in the late 60’s. I would see him again in 1989 at the Mondrian hotel as the Airplane was preparing for the 1989 Reunion Tour, but that too is a tale for another time.

He was one of a kind and undeniably a force of nature. I would probably never have run into him again, but the planet earth is a poorer place without him.

Rest in peace brother!

Here’s to us, and those like us. Damn few left!

Categories: Set Lists Tags:
  1. Brian Doyle
    October 6th, 2019 at 12:11 | #1

    With the advent of You-Tube music I by chance listened to Jimi Hendrix ‘Axis: Bold As Love’ album music just after I had sampled some Cream songs…I realized the Axis album is musically styled off of Cream if you compare the two…That makes sense because when Jimi was being talked in to going to England by Chas Chandler what made Jimi agree was Chas’s assurance that he would introduce Jimi to Eric Clapton…Jimi wanted Randy California to go along with him but he was too young for a visa…Randy had “walked in to the world behind the screen” before when he was lucky enough to back Jimi in Greenwich Village…I guess Cream was the direct product of the Mayall “clinic” where British musical discipline was put to original American acoustic blues…On “Axis” Mitch Mitchell and Noel Reddings’ falsetto accompaniments are directly derived from Cream…”Cream” by the way was the best first run charas hashish from northern India…

  2. Zebra
    October 6th, 2019 at 13:59 | #2

    As a drummer for over a half a century I owe a lot to Ginger.There’s a part from the shorter Toad from Fresh Cream that I’ll often play when my mind goes blank in a solo & it always works.Thank You Ginger

  3. Rob
    October 6th, 2019 at 14:36 | #3

    As frequent as it’s become lately to hear about the loss of a musician from what is the equivalent of the Renaissance in the music world, it’s important to acknowledge their greatness and their importance as this post does. Ginger definitely changed the way drummers approached rock music the same way that Hendrix changed the way guitarists approached it. And Cream played a big role the recognition of rock music as “serious” music because several years earlier, “serious” musicians listened to jazz, blues, and folk; but rock’n'roll was for sock hops and teenagers. And Cream was among the first to bring a jazz perspective to rock, which a lot of the Bay Area bands also did but circa 1966 and early 1967, Cream reached a larger audience. It’s always been great to hear people like Ginger Baker or Phil Lesh or Sam Andrews citing influences like Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Sun Ra but that was what a lot of bands were doing and Cream put it on the world stage very early. And while some of their blues interpretations were far removed from the originals–like “Crossroads” and “Spoonful”–others, like “Four Til Late” and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” were pretty faithful. Then there’s the incorporation of African music, which Ginger pretty much got to first among rock drummers, long before he actually went to live in Nigeria and work with Fela Kuti. So in addition to being a great drummer who made great music and played with great musicians, he also had a significant influence on other musicians. And as far as Cream is concerned, I doubt I’m alone in hearing major echoes of Cream in the Kaukonen/Cassady/Steeler lineup of HT, who somehow managed to do 25- to 30-song sets taking this approach when Cream’s tended more toward 5 – 10 songs.

  4. Rob
    October 6th, 2019 at 14:40 | #4

    As frequent as it’s become lately to hear about the loss of a musician from what is the equivalent of the Renaissance in the music world, it’s important to acknowledge their greatness and their importance as this post does. Ginger definitely changed the way drummers approached rock music the same way that Hendrix changed the way guitarists approached it. And Cream played a big role in the recognition of rock music as “serious” music because several years earlier, “serious” musicians listened to jazz, blues, and folk; but rock’n'roll was for sock hops and teenagers. And Cream was among the first to bring a jazz perspective to rock, which a lot of the Bay Area bands also did but circa 1966 and early 1967, Cream reached a larger audience. It’s always been great to hear people like Ginger Baker or Phil Lesh or Sam Andrews citing influences like Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Sun Ra but that was what a lot of bands were doing and Cream put it on the world stage very early. And while some of their blues interpretations were far removed from the originals–like “Crossroads” and “Spoonful”–others, like “Four Til Late” and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” were pretty faithful. Then there’s the incorporation of African music, which Ginger pretty much got to first among rock drummers, long before he actually went to live in Nigeria and work with Fela Kuti. So in addition to being a great drummer who made great music and played with great musicians, he also had a significant influence on other musicians. And as far as Cream is concerned, I doubt I’m alone in hearing major echoes of Cream in the Kaukonen/Casady/Steeler lineup of HT, who somehow managed to do 25- to 30-song sets taking this approach when Cream’s tended more toward 5 – 10 songs.

  5. Rob
    October 6th, 2019 at 14:45 | #5

    The story about Randy California walking into the screen at “2001: A Space Odyssey” reminds me of the “Twilight Zone” episode where the aging actress walks into one of her old movies.

  6. Chappy
    October 6th, 2019 at 19:22 | #6

    Jorma, thanks for sharing that story and your thoughts on Ginger Baker. Cream was slightly before my time but I feel blessed to have witnessed both the raw intensity and intricate jazz drumming of Ginger Baker when I got to see him play at the old Peabody’s Down Under in the Flats in Cleveland back in the 80’s. He was fronting a trio with two Italian guys on bass and guitar respectively. They covered most of the Cream catalog which was done with great spirit and reverence. And, the thing that really impressed me was his complete dedication to the drums and his band mates that night.

  7. Sweetbac Jr.
    October 6th, 2019 at 20:23 | #7

    Imagine Bob Steeler AND Ginger Baker going at it together on “Double Dose”?
    The “Rampage Years” woulda made a grown man run for his MAMA!
    Goodness.

  8. dickie
    October 6th, 2019 at 21:04 | #8

    @Brian Doyle

    thank you for that brian.that makes an awful lot of sense.very informative.he also had a little stint with gary moore and jack bruce (bbm) He called gary moore a pussy who would whine about the slightest little thing,and stated everything had be to cranked beyond belief.

  9. Joey
    October 6th, 2019 at 21:31 | #9

    Jorma, I just watched the video of Hot Tuna in SF Saturday.
    Wow! Incredible set list, and extremely inspired playing by all 3 of you!
    My hat goes off to you!
    Can’t wait for the Fla shows!

  10. Richard
    October 7th, 2019 at 05:28 | #10

    Got to see the Cream Reunion tour at Madison Square Garden in NYC a couple of years ago..Most I ever spent on a concert ticket $350 and was well worth it…The show was really great. May Ginger RIP…

  11. October 7th, 2019 at 05:58 | #11

    I persuaded my parents to drive me to New Haven arena 1968,I would have just turned 15.
    My seats were behind the stage (sucked), but I did enjoy the frenetics of Ginger Baker from behind.
    Later saw him at the Bridgeport Jets stadium with Blind faith which was memorable as I became a lifelong fan of
    “I can’t find my way home.”
    I’m sure Gingers will rattle that kit into eternity(one of greatest tom/tom runs in”Deserted cities of the heart”
    Beat on

  12. carey georgas
    October 7th, 2019 at 06:50 | #12

    I remember Airplane first and then Cream from those hazy days of youth from which sprang my awakening to the Age. Don’t need to tell none of you what that music did for my malleable young psyche. I recommend Beware of Mr. Baker, if you haven’t already seen it. Some have said it’s unflattering, but it made me appreciate the man all the more. Curmudgeons are cooler the older I get.

  13. Kevin Falvey
    October 7th, 2019 at 09:21 | #13

    Thanks for sharing that, Jorma.

  14. Art Chikofsky
    October 7th, 2019 at 14:43 | #14

    Once again, The Captain says it all beautifully and poetically!

  15. Joe from VA
    October 7th, 2019 at 14:52 | #15

    Wow—Ginger and the “Steelman” — would have given Double Dose a double meaning….

  16. October 7th, 2019 at 17:01 | #16

    If there’s any legitimacy and integrity in the equation you cannot compare Bob Steeler with Ginger Baker,
    I believe Justin Guip to be the best drummer HT has had.
    He can play it all

  17. John Blind
    October 7th, 2019 at 17:45 | #17

    Yes, Ginger was 1 of kind, but ar’t we all..ever see the flick, Beware Mr Baker? i drove the Dead in 1977-78 here in jersey for Jon Scher…the manager said he was Rob Hunter, if he was or was not, he was a great guy, and if he was not, I am sure the RH was a good soul

  18. Sweetbac Jr.
    October 7th, 2019 at 23:28 | #18

    OK, gang….Maybe we’ll rethink the whole “Ginger Baker on Double Dose” suggestion?
    Can you imagine a 15 minute drum solo in the middle of “embryonic journey”?
    I can’t either
    Mercy

  19. RAY GALLO
    October 8th, 2019 at 01:35 | #19

    Hi Jorma, i was near the front of the stage at Hardly Strickly. You guys were were soaring. And what about that sunset ? It was a great weekend in SF

  20. AndyK
    October 8th, 2019 at 09:33 | #20

    @Greg Martelli
    Justin is an award winning sound engineer and a talented drummer. But as a pure drummer, give me Skoota Warner’s energy.

  21. Steven Levenson
    October 8th, 2019 at 10:19 | #21

    Last year I figured out that I have probably listened to “Tales of Brave Ulysses” over 16,000 times. And if you have a chance, listen to The Turtle Island Sting Quartet’s version of Cream’s version of “Crossroads”. Their influence is everywhere.

  22. johno
    October 8th, 2019 at 10:26 | #22

    While Justin, Skoota and Bangin Bobby are all great drummers. The best drummer Hot Tuna ever had in my estimation was Sammy Piazza. Not many of you guys remember him. He was freakin amazing.
    @Greg Martelli

  23. October 8th, 2019 at 17:18 | #23

    One aspect of this blog that makes it fun to read are the segues and varied paths the conversational digressions
    take.
    Back to beaters and drummers ,the most fun to watch was Keith Moon,truly fun to watch and a nano BEHIND Towsend.
    Fito de la Para can keep a beat,Alan White hard to beat,and Jack DeJohnette is a sight to watch and follow.
    We could look back in the Cracks,but I’d like to know more about the Hot Tuna Scandinavian tour with Canned heat,who opened and if there was any collaboration.
    There’s no question that Hot Tuna fans are blessed to see two of Rocks premier musicians in Jack and Jorma,
    And to their credit the music is as vital today as it was in 1970,if not played with more elan.

  24. October 8th, 2019 at 17:22 | #24

    To follow ,Larry “the Mole “ Taylor died in August
    We’ll be seeing canned heat in Ocala late this month
    Little Feats in Louisville Friday ,with Larry and Theresa

    I don’t know about Feats with Paul Barrera out-,don’t know if we can sit through 90
    Minutes of Fuzzy Fred Tackett.
    Feats don’t fail us now

  25. Steve
    October 10th, 2019 at 12:30 | #25

    Jorma-I was literally just at Joshua Tree National Park and saw the motel where Graham Parsons passed as well as the spot in the park where they tried to cremate him…did you ever meet or hang or play with Graham?

  26. Mitch Spector
    October 10th, 2019 at 14:59 | #26

    R.I.P Ginger ♥ .Thanks for sharing Jorma !!

  27. October 10th, 2019 at 16:11 | #27

    Nope… never had the pleasure of meeting the man.