Chip Stern – I Was Blessed to Call Ginger Baker My Friend

Chip Stern

SKF NOTE: Chip Stern‘s emails are always a treat and always a worthwhile learning experience. I encourage you to read Chip’s reflections on his friend, Ginger Baker.

Homeward Bound: Reflections on a Musical Legacy
01-01-2020 | By Chip Stern | Issue 107

One hardly knows where to begin.

I was blessed to call Ginger Baker my friend.

I was likewise blessed to call Max Roach and Papa Jo Jones friends. And for reasons not altogether clear to me, I was tasked by the universe—both as an aspirant in rhythm and as a scribe—not only to chronicle their innovations for my fellow music lovers, but to bear witness to the end games of all three as they faded to black and a receptive silence.

Be that as it may, it’s always too damn soon to say goodbye.

And for me, arriving at some recollection of Ginger and our interactions with each other over the past 35 years has been trying, and here it is a full month and change since he passed, and only now am I able to reflect in part on both his darkness and his light, as in the end, Peter Edward Baker was nothing if not a man, guarding his muse behind an elaborate moat of snarkiness, alternatingly gentle and abrasive, sharing and guarded, kindhearted and off-putting, perceptive and naïve, funny and fatalistic.

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