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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

45 Years Ago: Ginger Baker Commands His Own ‘Air Force’


Ginger Baker wasn’t happy about the way Blind Faith fell apart in late 1969, but he didn’t waste any time moping about it; instead, he went and started a whole new band.

Standing in stark contrast to the power trio format he’d explored with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce in Cream — or the expanded four-piece employed by Blind Faith on their one and only album — Bruce went big for his next project, a huge 11-member outfit he called Ginger Baker’s Air Force. As he insisted to Disc and Music Echo in the spring of 1970, it all happened because he was lied to by Clapton, who departed Blind Faith to join up with the band’s onetime opening act, Delaney and Bonnie.

“I was very bitter after the U.S. tour with Blind Faith. You know, I was so shattered I had to go away for two months’ rest,” said Baker. “When I came back, I had been led to expect that we’d tour Britain with Delaney and Bonnie second on the bill – which is where they belong. I’m afraid I have no respect for a band that has to resort to good old rock and roll to get an audience interested. Anyway, instead of that I came back to find that Eric had got into the D&B thing and there was no tour and no Blind Faith.”

It was, according to Baker, just the latest example of shoddy treatment from musicians he’d tried to help. “At the start, Cream was mine. I took a drop in salary to start Cream, whereas Jack and Eric took a step up. Cream was always my baby. Musically, it was great and I think we said all we could, the way things were at the time,” he shrugged. “I’m not an easy person to get on with, I know, but I don’t bear people grudges, and as I’d been talking about getting a big band together one day, I thought I might as well go ahead.”

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