The reason Baker didn’t join the ranks of these now almost-forgotten names is that he became part of the British blues movement in the late Fifties and Sixties, which prepared the ground for the explosion of British pop.
Well I had to earn some money, and this mate of mine said, ‘Why don’t you play drums?One is of Baker beating the hell out of a drum kit at a Cream gig in 1967 during one of his titanic solos, red locks and wiry arms flailing with crazed energy.The other comes from the documentary Beware of Mr Baker, which opens next week.Anyway, I went along, they sat me down at the kit, and I just did it.I remember one of the horn players turned to the other and said, ‘Christ, we’ve got a drummer.’” The whole of Baker is in that story: the need to live on the edge of disaster, the remarkable gift that allows him to perform complex feats of physical co-ordination at the first attempt, the strange lack of self-awareness.“I was obsessed with the idea of being a professional cyclist when I was a kid, and I rode everywhere.
I worked in the art department of an ad agency, and I used to ride in on my bike every morning.
“You’re not going to do a Daily Mail on me, are you? Makes a good headline,” he says, in a tone that’s almost querulous. He brought a court case against a bank clerk whom he says defrauded him of hundreds of thousands.
Baker won the case, but it ruined him, and he had to sell the estate for a fraction of its value.
If two genuine redheads meet, then all their children will be fantastically red!
He’s the embodiment of the hell-raising rocker, the man once voted “the rock star least likely to survive the Sixties”, who left behind him a string of wrecked cars, failed marriages and busted supergroups.
Another story reveals something else: the incredible drive that overcomes all obstacles.