Ginger Baker, drummer with legendary rock band Cream, dies aged 80

Legendary British musician Ginger Baker, a founding member of psychedelic band Cream and considered one of the most innovative and influential drummers of his generation, died on Sunday aged 80.

Baker co-founded Cream - widely seen as the world's first supergroup - in 1966 alongside guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, before embarking on a host of other musical exploits during a colorful and eclectic career.

He had a volatile personal life, with four marriages, three children, struggles with drug and alcohol and stormy relationships with bandmates over the decades.

Some of the world's most famous drummers, including Ringo Starr on Sunday joined in the tributes.

"God bless Ginger Baker incredible musician wild and inventive drummer," wrote The Beatles' drummer on his Twitter account. "Peace and love to his family."

His death was announced on his Twitter account and confirmed by one of his daughters.

"We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning," the message stated.

"Thank you to everyone for your kind words over the past weeks."

Baker had previously suffered from heart problems and was admitted to hospital several weeks ago after becoming "critically ill," according to his social media page.

The famously erratic rocker emerged in the 1960s at the same time as other legendary drummers Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Described by the BBC as "a temperamental and argumentative figure, whose behavior frequently led to on-stage punch-ups," he was also once acknowledged as the best drummer in the world.

"There aren't many drummers who can get anywhere near me," he boasted in an old interview still posted on his personal website.

Music critic Neil McCormick lauded Baker as changing "the perception of rock drummers in the Sixties from timekeepers to musical personalities in their own right".

"In this age of drum machines, loops and click tracks, we may never see his like again," he wrote in a tribute piece Sunday on the Daily Telegraph's website.

(Cover: Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker with his Innovator award during the Classic Rock Roll Of Honor Awards at the Park Lane Hotel on November 2, 2009 in London, England. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): AFP