Beware of Mr. Baker tells the incredible story of legendary drummer Ginger Baker and his life through music and after. One of the three men to make up the influential band Cream among others, we are introduced to the man through a scene where he hits the film’s director Jay Bulger in the face with his walking stick along with the threat I’ll put you in the hospital. What is more surprising than this violent outburst is that the two men are actually friends. This clearly sets the tone for the rest of the documentary.
From an early age, Ginger Baker was a drummer. In school he would bang on the desk to the delight of classmates and as he slowly worked his way from one band to another. That is until a chance meeting with a young Eric Clapton led to the formation of a band called Cream. Although they only lasted a couple of years, they set the tone for the following decades-worth of music and established them all as the finest musicians of the era. However a series of battles with addiction combined with his own fiery personality led to one of the most fascinating careers.
The casual way that Ginger talks about his various drug addictions and familial mistakes shows a man who really doesn’t seem to care. He is a realist of the most brutal and confrontational way and while a clear link is made between his behaviour and the death of his father at a young age, there is no apologies because of this. Those that know him best state quite clearly that at his very best, he is intensely difficult.
There are a series of interviews of legendary musicians who knew the man and while they rarely hold back in condemning some of his actions, there is no doubt in the man’s musical ability. From the moment he meets his idol XXX Seaman and does heroin the same night, he begins discussing the influence of African drums on his work. He is a man who many would say allowed his personal demons to control his life, but there can be no doubt that he doesn’t seem to regret anything and always followed his passions of music and strangely polo.
Passionate, fiery, unpleasant and incredibly talented, Ginger Baker is one of the most controversial characters in music and Beware of Mr. Baker gives an even-handed account of his life, his successes and his failures. You may not like the man, but you have to respect someone who is so single-minded.