From the Uncut archive: a rare encounter with the legendary drummer at home


It’s nice, restrained drumming from you on “Toad”…
Restrained? Did you say “restrained”? Because I wasn’t [contemptuous] thrashing about? The Farewell Cream Albert Hall concert was awful – musically fucking terrible. I hated it. And Eric’s never spoken to Tony Palmer since he did that film [chuckles]. No, it wasn’t good at all. It was like milking your name.

Can I ask you about Blind Faith?
I loved Blind Faith.

It’s a great album, isn’t it?
I think so. Stevie [Winwood]’s a great guy to play with. I was very sad that it didn’t continue.

What did you think when Eric started looking at Delaney and Bonnie on Blind Faith’s American tour, and wanting to be in them instead?
I couldn’t understand it. Because Delaney and Bonnie to me were just another group trying to play black music and not doing it very well, and I couldn’t see what Eric saw in them at all. I think he just looked for an escape route. They all ripped him off big time.

Were you disappointed with Eric?
I was surprised. But he found out. In time, people see things more clearly.

Do you think because of Cream you’re thought of as a rock drummer, whereas I get the impression you’ve never even listened to much rock music?
I was a jazz drummer, right from when I first started playing, and I’ve never changed my approach or way of playing at all.

Are you enjoying playing again now, with the Ginger Baker Quartet?
Yeah, it’s great. The only thing is we don’t do enough work. That’s not good, because I like playing. It’s a very unusual line-up, very forward-looking. I mean, at the time so was Cream. And now this is, too.

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Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.

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