This article was originally published in Mean Magazine (October 1999), with art direction by Camille Rose Garcia, and an overview of Fela’s catalog by Michael Veal; the main article text, and sidebars, were later reprinted in full in the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 book (thank you Douglas Wolk and Peter Guralnick). Main article text is online here: http://www.arthurmag.com/2009/11/02/fela-king-of-the-invisible-art
by Jay Babcock
Best known for his work with Cream, Ginger Baker is one of the all-time great drummers, a versatile master at ease in a number of the world’s drumming traditions. He also has a reputation as an imposing interview subject. Still, at his wife’s recommendation, I called Ginger at his South African home at 7am, interrupting his morning bath. Here’s how the conversation went.