Hi, everyone. It’s that time again: the start of a new year, when many of you will be in sunny Anaheim, California, attending the annual National Association of Music Merchants winter convention. The NAMM Show is where dealers, manufacturers, and music enthusiasts gather for four days to introduce or check out new gear, make deals, network, and have a bit of fun. If you’ve picked up your first copy of Modern Drummer on the show floor, we hope you enjoy it. And if you’re already a monthly subscriber—we thank you!
In this issue we feature, for the first time on our cover, the illustrious Alex González. Alex is the drummer and occasional singer/songwriter with the Mexican band Maná, one of the most popular Latin-American groups in the world. In thirty-plus years, Maná has earned four Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, five MTV Video Music Latin America Awards, and nineteen Billboard Latin Music Awards, and they’ve sold upwards of 40 million records. Read all about Alex’s amazing career starting on page thirty-two of this issue.
Also in this issue we pay tribute to Ginger Baker, who passed away on October 6 at the age of eighty. Baker, who was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2008, was most known for bringing his influential double-bass rock drumming to the forefront with the ’60s supergroup Cream, featuring bass player Jack Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton.
We’ve all heard about Baker’s reputation as a wild man who sometimes flew out of control. But as drummers we still admired him as a musician and recognized the fire and passion that he played with throughout his life. Those who got to know him personally were fortunate to experience a softer side of the innovative drummer. Not that he didn’t sometimes lash out even at those he loved and cared for.
A few years ago I was fortunate to spend two days with Ginger and his daughter, Nettie, at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, and I got to see that kinder side of his personality. Ginger had been a huge influence on me growing up. That period, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, was the only time I ever played double bass drums. The older guys in my neighborhood nicknamed me “Ginger” because I could play the “Toad” drum solo from Cream’s double album Wheels of Fire at the age of twelve. Looking back now, I guess I faked it pretty good!
When news was announced of Baker’s passing, many of his peers, like Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Steve Winwood, Stevie Van Zandt, Eric Clapton, Carmine Appice, and Paul McCartney, acknowledged him respectfully and immediately tweeted their condolences. For our coverage here, rather than present more memories from his peers, we decided to take a deep dive into the many diverse projects he was involved in over his sixty-year playing career. There’s so much more to his art beyond the “Toad” solo and his famous “upside-down” beat on “Sunshine of Your Love.” After Cream broke up in 1969, for instance, he worked with Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. And then there are his pre-Cream recordings with the Graham Bond Organisation. In this month’s Part 1 of our Ginger tribute, we explore all of these chapters of his career.
We’re also honored to be featuring longtime MD favorites Horacio Hernández and Chris Johnson in this issue. We’re sure you’ll find some timeless advice and inspiration in those articles, too, as well as throughout the rest of the issue.
Until next time, may you all have sunshine and love.
Editor at Large