Although The Beatles and the Stones dominated sixties’ music in Britain (and the rest of the world), their drummers were very much in the background. When it came to world of rock percussion there were three names at the forefront; Keith Moon, John Bonham and Ginger Baker. Ensconced behind their double bass drums and a sea of cymbals and toms they were the real wild men of rock, given to all manner of excesses. In Moon’s case, his infamy far exceeded his skills on the skins. Bonham was undoubtedly a master of rock drumming, but it was Ginger Baker, with his origins in jazz and a fascination with African rhythms, who was the greatest innovator of the era. Beware of Mr Baker, showing in the Documentary Competition at London Film Festival, follows the life of the rock legend (and the only survivor of the three) from his childhood in South London up to the present day.
The film is mostly made up of an extended interview with Baker, in his home in South Africa, by journalist Jay Bulger, who had previously written a profile on Baker for Rolling Stone. Bulger also interviews many of his contemporaries and ex-band members, such as Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton, who all speak of Baker with great respect (for his skills) as well as a mixture of love and loathing. There is no doubt that Baker is a force of nature, and something of a law unto himself, which often comes with such personalities.
While he may be cantankerous and difficult, seeing and hearing him behind the drums one can make exceptions and excuses.
Through the interviews, which are enhanced by animations, and old music clips, there is no denying the massive influence Baker has had on modern music. For anyone that appreciates musicianship and wants to see a proper old-school rocker then this film is a must see.
Full details of screening times can be found on the LFF website.