An Interview With Kofi Baker of The Music of Cream

Image credit: Larry Marano

What do you do when your father is the drummer of a band which pioneered an entire genre for decades to come, and who spawned countless artists to follow? You carry on that legacy is what you do.

The Music of Cream is dedicated to carrying the Blues, Rock, and Psychadelic torch that has been passed on to them by, well, who other than Cream? The Music of Cream isn’t merely a cover band, and they don’t consider themselves to be one, they are this generation’s Cream, and they are here to prove that Psychadelic Rock isn’t dead, but instead, is an experience that fans, new and old alike, can get together and enjoy.

Surrounded by music from a young age, Ginger Baker’s son, Kofi, found his calling in life at a very young age. Persistence, dedication, and never-ending love for the drums, and music are what drive Baker to share this niche genre with anyone who will listen.

In the two short years of Cream’s history (1966-1968), before their tumultuous end, the trio managed to make their mark on the music industry as not only the first group to have all virtuosos, but also, the first “supergroup,” consisting of Eric Clapton of The Yardbirds, Jack Bruce of the Graham Bond Organisation, and Ginger Baker of GBO.

Today, Cream exists as The Music of Cream, consisting of drummer Kofi Baker (son of Cream’s drummer Ginger Baker), guitarist Will Johns (nephew of Eric Clapton), Kris Lohn on bass, and Stephen Ball on keyboards. So be sure to check out their current tour dates for this experience!

Anthony:
Kofi, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. How have you been these past couple of years?

Kofi:
I’ve been all over the place. I’ve been good. I’ve been doing my main session work because of the pandemic. So, I haven’t really been gigging a lot doing little gigs here and there, and recording a lot of albums is what I’ve been doing. I’m writing an album with Will [Johns] right now, and recording an album with my cousin in England, on my dad’s side, my dad’s sister’s daughter’s kid, believe it or not, I did an album with him. So, we’re finishing up there, and that’s about it. I’m just really getting prepared for this tour. I’m happy to get back on the road after being off the road for two years. 

Anthony:
That tour starts in February, right? 

Kofi:
Yeah, we do Europe, Holland, and London. So, just two countries in Europe. Well, England’s not technically Europe anymore. But yeah, England and Holland. I’m not sure if we get to Italy, or Germany or anything, but I think it’s just Holland, and England, and then, we come back, and America starts in April. We go all over the place, everywhere, and Canada. So, I suppose this is a world tour. If it’s four or more countries in the world, then it’s a world tour I think.

If it’s less than four countries, I always say it’s just a tour. I know musicians I worked with before classify it as a “world tour” if they just go around America, “Oh, I’ve done twenty world tours!”“You have?” …  “I’ve been to America, I’ve been to Pennsylvania, that’s a world tour.” [Laughs].

Anthony:
So, before we get into what you’re doing now, let’s talk about how you got started. What got you into music? Obviously, your dad was in Cream, was there anything before that?

Kofi:
Not really. I mean, I grew up playing drums all the time. I grew up with drums all over the place, and all over my house. So, it was really obvious what I was going to do. I picked up playing drums when I was three. My dad taught me all the rudiments. So, really, what got me into music was just having a drum kit there, and I found a reel to reel quarter-inch machine, and I just started recording drums, and recording stuff, taping over all these tapes that I thought were useless, which ended up being Blind Faith quarter-inch mixdowns. 

Anthony:
Oh, no!

Kofi:
I didn’t know! We saw all these tapes and I was like, “What’s all this stuff? Well, we can record over this.” My first kit was really all the African drums I could find that my dad left. My dad went single-kick drum for a while. So, he left his kick drum, and his Leedy snare drum which he used for Cream at the house because it was a spare snare. He didn’t really use that a lot because it was an antique, and worth a lot of money, I suppose. So, I had that, a kick drum, and a couple of cymbals. I had his old China symbol from China, you know, authentic Chinese cymbals. He had this really good stuff, and I was playing on that. Then, my dad came back, and found out I’d had all this, that I had his Leedy snare he goes, “I want that back!” I’m like, “Wuhhhh,” He goes, “You get it back when I die, and when I’m gone you can have it, okay.” I’m still trying to get that off his ex-wife, she’s widowed. She took everything.

I really want that snare drum back so if anyone sees that Leeds snare drum being sold on a black market let us know.

Anthony:
We’ll put an APB out for it and hopefully, it’ll turn up.

Kofi:
Yeah, exactly. Because, you know, my dad said I get that snare drum back, and that was a great snare drum, I would have put that snare drum in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Keep it there so everybody can see it, and I can visit it, and it’ll be safe, but God knows what she’s going to do with it.

Anthony:
Were you able to get any of his stuff?

Kofi:
No, she took everything. I couldn’t even go to the funeral! 

Anthony:
What?! No way, why?

Kofi:
Yeah, I mean, she upset the whole family, my dad’s sister, everybody, she just, I don’t know what her deal was. I mean, I really don’t know what happened, she just went nuts since my dad died. I went to see my dad in the hospital. It was all really good. I had a great last day with my dad, and he was calling for me. I was on the road in England at the time, and my dad was dying. He’s in the hospital. So, I was in Scotland. I came down, I saw him, and I went to Scotland, and I was like, “Dad, I’ll be back Monday,” and he died Sunday. So, apparently, he was calling for me the whole time. And, you know, I wish I could have, I couldn’t really cancel a tour. I mean, I suppose I could have done that, but I didn’t know my dad was gonna…I thought he was gonna hang in there because I thought he was indestructible. I thought he’d never die.

Anthony:
So, you still got to see him shortly before he passed away?

Kofi:
I saw him six days before he died, and it was the best time I ever had with him. I mean, we had some good times, you know? It was really unfortunate when he went to Africa and hooked up with his wife. She just made him not talk to any of his family. She separated him from some of his family. And I thought it was my dad. I did a Rolling Stone interview saying, “My dad’s dead to me. He doesn’t talk to me.” It turned out to all be her. So yeah, that’s what happens. It’s really a shame that this happens. There are older people, they’re seventy years old, and some young woman goes, “Hey, give me everything and I’ll be with you,” and they give everything to them just for a last little bit of fun. I suppose it’s your life, you could do what you want but if you have a family and kids, you shouldn’t just go off just because some young woman is flaunting herself, and, obviously, for the wrong reasons.

Anthony:
Your father’s passing happened in 2019 during the European tour with The Music of Cream, right?

Kofi:
Yeah, I went to see him in hospital and I said, “Dad, I’m playing all this stuff. I mean, it’s singing, you know, I’m doing “Pressed Rat” and “Warthog,” and I’m, singing “Blue Condition’” and he was really happy about it. He was just happy to see us keeping the music alive. I suppose, when you get to the end of your life, all the crap goes out the window.

Anthony:
What was it like playing alongside Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Ronnie Wood, and Kenney Jones, among others?

Kofi:
You know, they were just people to me. I mean, we get on stage, and it’s just playing with some great musicians. Eric’s great. I mean, out of the three of them, I think Eric’s the least difficult. I think he was the most down-to-earth person I met. Jack was all over the place and my dad was all over the place. Eric seemed really nice. I met him a few times growing up, but never really sat, and talked to him, and talking to him really was the best part. The playing was great, but sitting there talking to him was just really good. Hearing stories about my dad, I felt like Eric was family because he had so much time — the best time of my dad’s life — and he helped my dad out so much.

In the later years that I felt like he was a godfather to me, and my dad. So, that was a great thing. Ronnie Wood was real fun. I didn’t really talk to Roger Waters that much. I wish I had, it was just really hectic. I flew in for the last couple of days, had rehearsals — and it was quick rehearsals — and then, Eric showed up like five minutes before the gig started, played the gig, and then left. I didn’t know where he went. So, that was it. I only saw him on stage, and the last time I saw him, so I didn’t really get to talk to him, after which, I wish I had. I’m hoping when I go back to England, I’ll get to meet up with him again, and have a conversation, or something or, maybe get him to sit in or something. For me, I don’t think of it like it Eric Clapton, as the “god of guitar.” To me, he’s like a family member, someone that’s in my family that plays guitar, and is great. It’s hard to tell normal people, but it’s like talking to your friends, and normal people. They’re no different than anybody else.

Anthony:
It seems as if The Music of Cream is all one close-knit family.

Kofi:
Yeah, it’s always fun playing this music. I’ve never really played it as much before as I am now. I’ve always liked it, but I’ve always done my own thing. I always figured I may play “Sunshine Of Your Love” or “White Room” at a gig when people shout it out, but that was as far as it went, maybe “Crossroads” at a gig, and stuff. But it’s just such a great thing to play this music, and now, playing the whole album in its entirety is great because I grew up with this stuff around me, and now I’m playing it. I feel like it’s my obligation. It’s not a tribute band. It’s not like, “Hey it’s a tribute,” because it’s doing a tribute to my dad. It’s nice. I’m just keeping my family legacy going.

Anthony:
It’s not a tribute band, you guys are in a way, a reformed Cream.

Kofi:
I’m just playing my dad’s music because I feel it’s my responsibility to keep his legacy going. After all, it’s so great, and that music was just so influential to so many people. So many musicians and drummers were influenced by that music. Some of the greatest drummers ever, like Terry Bozzio — I love Terry Bozzio — every really good drummer has been influenced by my dad. Listen to The Air Force, and the stuff he did afterward — Blind Faith and Air Force — Air Force, I think was his best work. I mean, some of the drums on the Air Force stuff is insane.

So, anyway, that’s my next job, to do the Blind Faith and the Air Force, which I’m doing in my own band called The Psychedelic Trip, which I do more of that. I cover more of that side of stuff because The Music of Cream is really focused on Cream, and Will [Johns] is more close to Eric so he does the Eric Clapton side of things which is amazing because the way Will write Eric Clapton type of songs, and I come from more of the Psychedelic stuff. So I’m like, “Hey Will, I know this is a great song, but this let’s put some 7/4 timing in it.”

So it’s going to be interesting what we come up with. I think it’s going to end up sounding kind of like Cream, because Will’s very much like Eric, and I’m very much like my dad. Of course, Jack [Bruce] wrote a lot of the stuff but that’s only because he didn’t give my dad, and Eric time, he just wrote so quickly. He just went with it, because they were only together for two years. And from what my dad said, they were all writing songs, and Jack went away and came back with like, fifteen hundred thousand songs in a night. And it was like, “Well, okay, I suppose this is what we’re going to have to do, we’re gonna have to play all these because we don’t have time to sit there and mess around with all the songs that we wrote.” So, that’s why it ended up being a lot of Jack songs with Cream. From what I understand from my dad anyway.

Anthony:
Since you mentioned Blind Faith and Air Force already, I wanted to ask how important it is for you to introduce more of your dad’s music other than Cream.

Kofi:
I think it’s very important because for my dad’s legacy Cream was the beginning. I suppose “Graham Bond” [The Graham Bond Organisation], was the beginning of my dad’s career. After Cream, he went on to do some insane stuff. Eric stayed with Robert Stigwood. Robert Stigwood said to Jack and my dad, “Stay with me, I’ll keep money flowing, and keep you going,” and my dad and Jack were like, “Screw you!” My dad just wasn’t a businessman. He had no idea about business. He just played drums and took lots of drugs. He never paid taxes off Cream, and they came and took our house when I was a kid. I lived on the streets at age fourteen for like two years because of all that crap.

So, my dad went on to do Blind Faith, which was a big band because Eric was in it, and Stevie Winwood, and then he went off to do Air Force, which was basically him just going, “I’m just gonna do really what I want to do. My thing and put a band around me.” He paid everybody else all the money and didn’t take any money for himself while the taxman was still assessing him for the Cream money, and he was taking half or a quarter of the money, and giving it all to the musicians. Do that for ten years, and you’re getting in a bit of trouble.

With Air Force, that’s him really at his peak. Cream was the beginning of his peak. Graham Bond, Cream, Blind Faith, and then, Air Force, to me, was him really shining because Cream was kind of a commercial adventure. It was kind of bringing the jam fusion Jazz thing. Fusion wasn’t really invented, it was only just coming out. He was mixing Jazz with Rock and making it more commercially viable. Air Force was like, “Screw that, I’m just gonna do whatever I want. I’m just gonna have a band, and the adventures that I want,” and it was really Psychedelic. Nowadays, I think it’s right up there. They really paved the way for all the other bands.

Anthony:
How is it trying to carry on Psychedelic music into this day, and age, where it seems to be more of a niche thing, whereas it was more popular in the 60s and 70s?

Kofi:
Well, I don’t give a crap about the music today. To me, the reason they have so much visual stuff with music today is that the music is so boring. you can’t sit there and close your eyes and just get into it. You have to see somebody dancing around and doing a dance act because otherwise, you take that away, and the music’s pretty damn boring. It’s all just one dimension. Back in the day, with the Psychedelic stuff, it was multiple dimensions, it was like you went off, you did this, and you did that, you were free to explore stuff, there was freedom, there’s no freedom in music today. I play a lot of cover gigs since I haven’t been working, and occasionally, you get in a cover band that lets you be free and do stuff, but most of the time, they want to hear the people in the bar. They don’t understand unless you play a song that they know, otherwise, they’re talking or drinking. I’m sitting here with a band jamming our asses off, doing all this good stuff, and they’re sitting there watching TV, then suddenly, you play a song like “Play That Funky Music White Boy,” and the crowd will go like, “Yeaaaaah!” Then, you go off to play something cooler, and they’re all like, “Blah Blah Blah.” So, it’s weird. It seems like people are kind of brainwashed.

I don’t know why it’s got so simple. I know musicians have gotten more simple. I mean, back in the day, people came from Jazz. They came from Classical. Listen to the old movies, listen to the old music. It was the Beach Boys, all that kind of stuff, and what they took their music from, The Beatles, they took their music for all those bands who were good musicians. They set up in the studio with one mic, and they did a great take. Nowadays, it’s all like, “Put your click track on, let’s do a loop.” When I do sessions today, I’ll play a session, and they’ll say “We need the snare drum to sound the same, and the kick drum,” so I just loop one beat, A one bar loop, and it’s like, “That’s it, that’s what we want.” It’s insane. It’s like that’s all there is.

So, I’m trying my best to bring back real music to the world. I might die trying, but it’s my obligation to bring back music where people can play. And when you get on stage, and you go to a gig, you can go to a gig the next day, and it’s a different gig. We play it differently. That’s why I say Cream play different every night. Okay, the studio album was the same because it was one album, but when they played it live, they played a different “Sunshine Of Your Love” than when they played it on the album, [sings the tune of “Sunshine Of Your Love”], but when they play it live, it’s different every time. They put pushes in there. They messed with it. It wasn’t the same thing. So, that’s what I’m trying to bring back. I’m trying to bring back music for people that have ears that don’t want to just go, “BUM. BUM. BUM,” because that drives me nuts!

Anthony:
You’re right, you can improvise a lot when you play live like that.

Kofi:
Right! I’m an improv kind of guy. I come from my dad’s school, he taught me and he used to say, “If I played it the same way twice, I’d be pissed.” You want to play it differently every time because otherwise, what’s the point? What’s the point of repeating yourself? That’s what tribute bands do. I did some tribute bands, I’m not going to mention names or anything, and they’d be pissed if it was slightly different, and they’d be like, “No man, this is good, listen to the record.” I’m going, “The reason the drummer played that is that he had a quarter talent I have, and he didn’t have anywhere near the depth of understanding of music I had. So that’s what he could play.” And I’m not gonna mention any names of the music. I mean, that’s the thing, like my dad came from all that really good Fusion Jazz stuff, so he had a deep repertoire, he could sight-read music, he could write out music, you don’t find that nowadays. You know, people just program it into the computer.

Anthony:
Yeah, I know what you mean, I went to a show last night and I’ve been listening to this band for ten years, and they did a little improv on a few of their songs. It was great to hear something fresh from what I normally hear. As you said, listen to the same album over and over — it’s nice to hear it from a different perspective.

Kofi:
Exactly. People used to say to me sometimes when we were touring, “Have you ever thought about doing your own original music?” I go, “Well, yes, I’ve done it my whole life. But that last ten-minute jam on stage was original. That was us. We wrote that on the fly.” I mean, that’s the thing, when you improv, it’s original music. So, you come to one of my shows that we’re doing the music of Cream, and yes, you’re gonna hear Disraeli Gears. Now, Disraeli Gears is probably one of their most commercial albums. So, there’s really not that much freedom in it, but we’re gonna put some freedom in it here and there. We’ll throw in “White Room,” and some other songs. I mean, on Disraeli Gears, “Sunshine Of Your Love” fades off, but “Sunshine Of Your Love,” when we play it live, we jam for like, five or ten minutes or so depending on how much time we’ve got. When they [Cream] played it live, they wouldn’t go out and play Disraeli Gears just like the album, they would never do that. So, it’s kind of weird that we’re kind of doing that, but management wants us to do it, so we’re doing it.

Anthony:
I wanted to touch on the drugs at the time. The drugs were very influential on the music at that time for the improv and long jamming sessions.

Kofi:
And they still are! Nowadays it’s meth and, and all that kind of stuff, uppers, and ecstasy. Back in the day, it was like pot, LSD, mushrooms, which are the best ones! I don’t even classify pot as a drug! It’s just a herb you know? LSD can be a bit hard, but pot, and mushrooms, you can’t go wrong with those, they’re natural, they’re not refined. You just pull it off a plant and eat it. I eat it because I don’t like smoking, but mushrooms, I’m not really that fond of mushrooms because it’s a little bit hard for me, but pot, I’m glad it’s been legalized in the world because, man, if we made alcohol illegal, and make pot legal, you’d have fewer car accidents. You’d have fewer fights and less violence. Get everybody high on pot, and everybody would be driving and saying, “Cut me off man, cut me off, you could do that. Don’t use a turn signal it’s fine, man. I’m cool.” You know? If I’m straight, someone doesn’t use a turn signal, “What an asshole!” [Laughs].

Anthony:
Speaking of Disraeli Gears, we had already mentioned it was one of the more commercially successful albums for Cream, so this is probably a hard question to answerwhat’s your favorite Cream record?

Kofi:
That’s kind of hard. I kind of liked them all for certain parts, you know? I just think Cream really didn’t have a bad song. I mean, every song was fun and good. “Anyone For Tennis?” Okay, that was pretty bad. [Laughs]. I mean, I can’t really choose a favorite album because they’re all really good. Disraeli Gears is one of the most commercial. It’s got some really great stuff on it. But, I mean, all of them had great stuff on them. I can’t believe I can’t choose a favorite.

Anthony:
How about besides Cream? Who were some of your other favorite artists, and albums?

Kofi:
Okay, well, I was a Zappa fan. I met Dweezil [Zappa] a long time ago at The Baked Potato. When I used to play there. A band called OHM, which has Chris Poland from Megadeth. And that was an improv fusion thing, which was really cool. So, I met Dweezil there. I did an interview with him not long ago, and he’s a great guy. I’d love to do some stuff with him because his dad was like, my favorite growing up. I mean, all the drummers that play with Zappa were amazing. So yeah, Zappa was probably my biggest influence, all kinds of that kind of stuff. Barbara Thompson & Paraphernalia, which you’ve probably never even heard of, is Fusion. I was huge into all of that Fusion stuff. Tony Williams Lifetime, you know? I grew up heavily into Fusion, and that’s why I never made any money most of my life because I was always more into playing drums for the music rather than the money. So, for me, it was always about the music. I never really cared about money.

Anthony:
You’re very passionate about fusion. Do you have any other passions outside of music?

Kofi:
Working out! I’ve got my gym here in my house where I say this is my favorite room because it’s got my drum kit in the background there and my weight room. Other hobbies, I suppose, mechanics a little bit. I used to really be into fixing cars. Not so much now that I’m older, bashing my knuckles, and breaking my fingers. It’s not really that great anymore. My only other passion is working out, and playing drums!

 
Anthony:
Speaking of drum kits, do you use the same kit to record that you use to play live? 

Kofi:
No, because my studio kit sits in my studio, and never moves. It’s mic-ed up and stays the same. So, when I’m doing a session, if I come back to it a month later, it’s the same sound. I don’t have to mess with it. So, my kit in my studio is a mess of all kinds of different drums. It’s like it’s a mix of like all kinds of drums over the years I put together but live I play William The Thirddrums. WFLIII drums is an amazing story because the guy who built the drums for my dad, and Cream was Bill Ludwig, and his son is building the drums for me using the same specs. So, that’s like the most amazing kit because it sounds like my dad’s kit from Cream, and that was a great drum sound. They’re really great drums but in the studio, I use something different. I have a Ford snare drum that was handmade for me, and that stays in my studio. I have some other drums that were handmade through the years that I use for these but for my main gigs right now I’m using the WFLIII drums.

Anthony:
If you can get hold of your dad’s snare would you be able to add that to the mix?

Kofi:
Oh no, I would put that in in the museum if I got hold of that.

Anthony:
Like you said earlier about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, put it in there.

Kofi:
Yeah. It’s a great snare but it’s really old. When I had it, it was already getting beaten up. There are some cracks in the wood, and I really think that drum should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The same with the ride cymbal he used for Cream. Here’s the story for you — unfortunately, the cymbal he played for Cream cracked, it was a Zildjian cymbal. He left it at the house with my mom where I lived, and he got another cymbal, which is the one he used toward the end of Cream, Blind Faith, and all that other stuff, which his wife still has, which should go to me, and I would put it in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his snare drum, but I’ll probably never see it.

Anyways, the original cymbal from his Cream days, I had, and I had it wrapped in a dressing gown to use it as a practice cymbal, and then, when I moved to America, my sister had a kid, and the kid moved into my room, threw all of the stuff in the attic, and I never saw it again. And then, when my mom died, I was like, “Where’s my stuff?” She’s like, “Well, it got thrown away.” And I said, “Are you kidding me? That was mine, and that should have been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that cymbal.” It’s in the trash, in a landfill somewhere, I don’t know what happened to it. It’s very sad.

Anthony:
That’s very sad. What was your first time in America like?

Kofi:
It was great! I got off the plane, my manager, who really helped me out when I was young, he met me off the plane, and he handed me this skinny little rolled up joint, and I was like, “I’m from England, we roll our hash in tobacco, this great big joint with tobacco and hash!” I said, “What’s this skinny little thing gonna do?” And, you know, I took two puffs of it, and I’m walking into walls, and glass doors. So, my first experience in America was being very high on San Diego weed. [Laughs].

Anthony:
Do you collect any kind of music like vinyl or CDs? You said you had your reel to reel? Did you hold on to that? 

Kofi:
No, that was all gone with all that stuff I left at my mom’s house. When she died, I lost everything. The only thing I got was my teddy bear from when I was a kid and a few clothes. What was the question, the teddy bear threw me off. [Laughs].

Anthony:
Do you collect any kind of music right now?

Kofi:
We’re all digital. I’m doing so many sessions now, and music is my work, so when I’m not learning something to do a session, I’m just playing drums, just practicing, and playing drums. So, I do listen to music here, and there, and when someone gives me a CD or something. I really want to get a record player and get the vinyl back because it’s all coming back now. At some stage, when I get some money — I’ve been broke for these last few years because of no gigs — I’d like to finally get into vinyl.

For the last two years, I’ve been sitting here just trying to make ends meet doing session work, recording for people, and stuff like that. So, I haven’t had the money to buy a record player or do that. But when I get back on the road and get some money again, I think I’m going to purchase a record player, and then, buy some vinyl, and start listening to that stuff again. 

Anthony:
I really hope 2022 works out a whole lot better for you touring then because it’s hard when your lives abruptly stop, especially for musicians.

Kofi:
I hope so. if everybody’s still alive! I mean, unfortunately, our demographic is pretty old. This is why I’m trying to get this music to the young people because I mean, for God’s sake, it’s like, “It’s it’s better than the crap you listen to, kids, the stuff you’re listening to is crap, start listening to the old stuff, start listening to all the music where it’s real musicians.” I’m trying to bring that back. So, that’s the whole point of the Psychedelic because there’s a lot of Psychedelic people, with pot being legalized now, we’re getting everybody back into being hippies, which is great. Let’s get some love and peace, please! Right now, it’s all AK-47s, war, and killing!

Anthony:
And as mentioned earlier, now’s a perfect time to get back into records.

Kofi:
The only down point of record players I remember is needles, having to replace my needles and stuff like that. I love records. I had a great record player when I was a kid, and the speakers I built myself. That’s my other hobby, I build and repair things. I re-plumbed my own house. I put windows in, I build walls, I do stuff, I’m kind of a handyman. So, when I get time, that’s my other hobby, fixing things. I’m good at fixing things. I’m getting pretty old, you know? I used to just enjoy it and sweat it out. Now, if I do something, and I push something, it’s like, “Oh, my shoulder hurts.” [Laughs]. When I was a kid, I’d ride my bike, I’d fall off, I’d ride off the garage roof, and land on my head, and I’d be fine! Now, I wake up in the morning, “Oh I slept wrong, I hurt!” [Laughs].

That’s why I try to keep working out and keep in shape because that’s the best thing you can do when you get old is to hit the weights, and keep the muscle tone, because that’s what you lose. You lose muscle as you get older. So, you need to start working out.

Anthony:
That probably helps a lot when you’re on the road, staying in shape, because you’re just non-stop moving when you’re drumming, it’s a lot of endurance.

Kofi:
Drumming doesn’t really do much to me. I mean, I hit the gym when I’m on the road, which causes problems sometimes because I’m trying to get to the gym, and then, get back to soundcheck, but I have to go to the gym. It’s kind of my therapy. It’s like working out. If I take two or three days off from the gym, I feel like crap. I feel like, “Oh no I’m losing it.” So I work out when I’m on the road.

Anthony:
Kofi, we had a great conversation, thanks again for doing this with us today. Do you have any parting words for us, and our readers?

Kofi:
It was a great conversation, and we touched on a lot of stuff. I hope some people that see this interview realize that the music, it’s not just for the older folk. We gotta get these young people out there to see some real music, and get back into that, jamming and improv stuff. All the musicians, all the young musicians out there, stop listening to your Pop stuff and playing along with it, just practice your instrument and learn your instrument. That’s what needs to happen.

Kids today picking up an instrument really need to learn to play through. It’s always, “I want to learn that song or that song.” No, learn history. When I was teaching, it was really hard because kids were like, “I just want to learn to play.” Look, let’s teach you a paradiddle, let’s teach them double stroke rolls. Let’s teach you the rudiments of the drums because when I learned to play my dad taught me, I never played along with a record. He taught me how to play the drums. Then, once I learned to play the drums, I could play along with a record. But, you know, there’s a lot of things that drummers of today do wrong because they don’t learn the rudiments, which those people who created. My dad, who created the beat for “Sunshine Of Your Love” and “White Room,” all that kind of stuff, he didn’t get that from listening to records, he got that from his repertoire of practice. So, when you’re just learning a record and going, “Oh, well, I think it goes like this,” you’re not really learning.

I have a book called The Forgotten Foot, it’s by Hal Leonard. If you’re a drummer get this book because it will teach you how to play properly, and you’ll be amazed how much different your drumming will be because of your left foot. It’s like this, you get an automatic car, and you drive it for ten or twenty years, and you get in a stick shift, you can’t drive the car. Now, if you learn to drive a stick shift, you can drive anything. It’s the same with drumming. If you learn to use that left foot quarter note, eighth note upbeats, if you learn to integrate that left foot from the beginning, you’ll get you’ll be able to cover everything you’ll have so much more drumming ability, but they don’t.

I’ve had drummers when I was teaching that have been playing ten years, and their left foot’s doing nothing, and then, you try to teach them how to use the left foot, and they have to go back to the beginning, and they don’t want to, “I don’t want to have to start again.” You watch drumming today, watch the left foot, it stops, it doesn’t do anything. Then you watch the drummers like Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or anybody that caliber and their left foot are an integral part of their drumming, and that’s what my dad did. My dad took that left foot Jazz hi-hat pad and put it on the second kick drum. And that’s why people can’t play worth a shit. So, you can’t play that Cream stuff, You can’t play my dad’s drumming unless you learn how to use the left foot the way my dad learned it from Jazz. So, The Forgotten Foot, drummers, get that book, and you’ll be able to play that stuff.

I’m trying to keep it going. That’s what I’m trying to teach everybody, Come on, man. Let’s get it going. Let’s get music back! Let’s recover it from where it’s gone today!

Interested in learning more about Kofi Baker & The Music Of Cream? Check out the link below:

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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2 thoughts on “An Interview With Kofi Baker of The Music of Cream

  1. great interview. I first heard when he played in a band called LOST CITY, released on Scotti Bros back in the 90’s….well worth a listen…

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