There are many rock icons that could probably reduce a novice reporter to a quivering pile of tears and shattered dreams because of how much of an enormous jerk they are, but none more potentially crazed and volatile than masterful drummer Ginger Baker. Within the opening minutes of the documentary look back on his life, Beware of Mr. Baker, the cantankerous and chronically riled up former virtuoso that played with the likes of Cream and Blind Faith has already pretty much broken the nose of director/brave soul Jay Bulger and kicked him off his property.
In a way, this moment that actually happened towards the end of shooting becomes a sort of de facto framing device to tell the story of a man up to the minute the film was being shot. Obviously not an easy person to get to appear on camera, Bulger used his connection to Baker through a previously published Rolling Stone article to take a larger look at the reclusive cult figure and to talk to those who knew him best.
More of a jazz drummer than the hard rocker he was made out to be, Baker oversaw the formation of the short lived by highly influential Cream and dozens of other equally short lived band. Bulger interviews the chronically pissed off and belligerent Baker from his South African estate about everything from his childhood and his musical influences to his travels across the Sahara and his drug addiction.
There’s very little filler in the material here, and the interviews with former bandmates, some of whom are vastly more open to talking about Baker’s mad genius than others, never pull any punches. It’s one of the better roc docs to come down the pike in recent memory, and it might even be one that Baker could begrudgingly admire before finding something he didn’t like and started berating someone about it.