Steve Winwood paid tribute to his late former bandmate Ginger Baker, who died on Oct. 6 at 80.

The Traffic frontman and Cream drummer first worked together in the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith, then collaborated again in Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

“A very sad loss, and my condolences to his family and friends,” Winwood said in a statement. “I was lucky to play with him in Ginger Baker’s Air Force … and also in Blind Faith with Eric Clapton and Rick Grech. Although his appointment was very unorthodox (he showed up on the doorstep and said, ‘Here I am’) – he made a great contribution to the Blind Faith album which has withstood the test of time. ... Beneath his somewhat abrasive exterior, there was a very sensitive human being with a heart of gold. He’ll be missed.”

The family of Cream bassist Jack Bruce, who died in 2014, acknowledged the pair’s tense but successful collaborations. “The Bruce family would like to extend their sincere condolences to Ginger Baker’s family, friends and fans,” their statement read. “Surviving a love-hate relationship, Ginger was like an older brother to Jack, their chemistry was truly spectacular. R.I.P. Ginger, one of the greatest drummers of all time.”

Baker's son Kofi said, “The other day I had a beautiful visit with my dad. … We talked about memories and music, and he’s happy that I’m keeping his legacy alive. Our relationship was mended and he was in a peaceful place. Thank you all for the kind messages and thoughts. I love my dad and will miss him always.”

Clapton’s website posted an obituary in which Baker was called “the world's first superstar drummer,” and noted that "in his final years, Ginger suffered from degenerative osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

 

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