Previously at the ICA - Films

Jay Bulger, Beware of Mr Baker, 2012

Beware of Mr Baker

24 May 20134 Jun 2013

Born in South East London the same week the Nazis began bombing, Ginger Baker's first memory was running after a train that carried his father off to death in WWII. From his music to his life, at the expense of family and fortune, Ginger would never be left behind on the tracks again.

Though best known for his work with Eric Clapton in Cream and Blind Faith, the greatest drummer in contemporary musical history did not hit his stride until years later in 1972 when he drove the first Range Rover ever produced from London to Nigeria in pursuit of the African rhythms and musical icon, Fela Kuti. There he found his Mecca of drumming, introducing the African beat and 'world music' to the West, years before any other musicians in the field.

Unfortunately, Ginger's African glory days were short lived as he found himself looking down the barrel of a Nigerian officer's machine gun. Signaling his departure from the continent and the loss of his fortune, Ginger returned to England where a pattern of divorces and self-destruction continue on to Italy, California, Colorado, and current day South Africa where he lives inside a fortified compound with his 29-year-old bride and 39 polo ponies.

Chain smoking and ingesting copious amounts of morphine while sitting in his leather recliner, the 73-year-old reflects back on his life as we concurrently witness yet another chapter of destruction. In his own words, 'God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and in as much pain as he can. I wasn't planning on living this long!'

The documentary includes stories from his ex-wives, children, and many of the greatest living musicians including Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, Carlos Santana, Alex Van Halen and Jack Bruce.

This documentary is one such story - a marriage of the film and music worlds through the life of one of the most unforgettable and controversial musicians. He was there the night Jimi Hendrix died, shared the drugs, the music, the names, the groups, while stripping away the other voices as the conductor, time keeper, the master drummer of our time. Beware of Mr Baker catapults the viewer into his beat - with every smash of the bass drum there is a man behind it smashing his way through life, and smashing the filmmaker's nose with a steel cane on the last day of filming.

Beware of Mr Baker, dir. Jay Bulger, USA 2012, cert. 15

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