SKF NOTE: A snippet from Jim Clash’s four-part interview with Ginger Baker for Forbes magazine.
JUN 16, 2015 @ 9:52 PM
Cream Drummer Ginger Baker’s Early Influences, How He Kicked Heroin Habit
Jim Clash CONTRIBUTOR
Jim Clash: When did you kick your addiction to heroin?
Ginger Baker: I decided to get straight in 1964, and I finally made it in 1981! I had about 29 cold turkeys in that period. I would get off, sometimes for nine months, then something would happen. It was a crutch – it was there.
JC: You went to work on an olive tree farm, correct?
GB: I went to Italy totally broke after losing my money in a recording studio in Nigeria. In order to survive, I began farming olives. I had over 300 trees. It was very rewarding. The place had been abandoned for 20 years, and I took it over. Half had fallen down, and I repaired it. It was at the top of a mountain, and it wasn’t an easy job. Then I took care of it, so I didn’t pay rent. It was probably the best thing that happened to me. I completely left the drug world behind.
JC: Sounds kind of idyllic.
GB: It was God’s recipe. It was someplace where nobody spoke English. I didn’t know anybody. Farming olives is probably one of the hardest labor things you can do. You’ve got to prune the trees – it’s an art form, really.
JC: Were you recording during that time?
GB: I was out of music then. There was a period when my drums were in one of the barns I built there, untouched for a year.