Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker is in the middle of his first series of U.S. shows since his old band played their 2005 reunion concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The notoriously moody musician, who's touring with a new outfit called Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion, recently chatted with Rolling Stone about a number of topics, including the status of his health and his opinion about some of the most renowned artists in rock history.
Baker tells the magazine that he's battling two illnesses that are making performing very difficult for him.
"I've got degenerative osteoarthritis, which is extremely painful and I'm on a regimen with a health service pain management control," he reveals. "Apart from that I've got COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] from smoking."
The 74-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer admits, "It's troubling. At the end of the gig I'm absolutely exhausted."
He adds that among the reasons he's still out on the road are he enjoys the music and he needs the money.
Meanwhile, Baker says he's no fan of two famous bands that emerged from the same London music scene that he did -- The Rolling Stones and The Who.
"[Stones drummer] Charlie [Watts] is a great friend of mine. I think the world of Charlie," he points out, but insists that he "won't go within 10 miles of a Rolling Stones gig."
Asked why he feels this way, Ginger responds, "They're not good musicians," adding that "the best musician in the Stones is Charlie by a country mile." In addition, he says he doesn't think much of The Stones' songwriting abilities either.
Regarding The Who, Baker reports, "I knew Pete Townshend's dad better than I knew Pete Townshend," because he'd worked with the elder Townshend -- who was an accomplished jazz musician -- "in the early '60s and late '50s." He also points that although he was friends with the late Keith Moon, he "wouldn't say he was a great drummer."
Baker's tour with Jazz Confusion runs through an October 22-23 stand at Dmitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle. Visit GingerBaker.com to check out all of his upcoming dates.
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