Legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker died yesterday (October 6th) at the age of 80. Baker's family posted a message to fans on Twitter, stating, "We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully this morning. Thank you to everyone for your kind words to us all over the past weeks." The family announced last month that Baker was hospitalized and "critically ill."

Baker had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, in addition to chronic back pain from degenerative osteoarthritis. In 2016 Baker was forced to scrap a string of live dates after undergoing open-heart surgery.

Back in 2013, Ginger Baker told Rolling Stone that his health was, ". . . not good. It's troubling. At the end of the gig I'm absolutely exhausted. I've got degenerative osteoarthritis, which is extremely painful and I'm on a regiment with a health service pain management control. Apart from that I've got COPD from smoking."

Ginger Baker, who was based out of West Africa, was the subject of the critically acclaimed 2012 documentary, Beware Of Mr. Baker, which shed light on his tough and at times misanthropic personality, which underscored some of the problems his bandmates in Cream and Blind Faith had with him. Baker was married four times and has three adult children.

Paul McCartney took to social media to salute his old friend posting: "Ginger Baker, great drummer, wild and lovely guy. We worked together on the 'Band on the Run' album in his ARC Studio, Lagos, Nigeria. Sad to hear that he died but the memories never will. X Paul"

Ringo Starr tweeted: "God bless Ginger Baker incredible musician wild And inventive. drummer Peace and love to his family"

Mick Jagger tweeted: "Sad news hearing that Ginger Baker has died, I remember playing with him very early on in Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. He was a fiery but extremely talented and innovative drummer."

Steve Winwood said in a statement: "A very sad loss, and my condolences to his family and friends. A loss also for his contribution to music. He was well-grounded in jazz from very early on, and later managed to combine this with African and rock music to create his own inimitable style of playing. I was lucky to play with him in Ginger Baker's Air Force, and to meet and work with such luminaries as Phil Seamen, Harold McNair and Graham Bond. And also in Blind Faith with Eric Clapton and Rick (sic) Grech. Although his appointment was very unorthodox (he showed up on the doorstep and said, 'Here I am') - he made a great contribution to the Blind Faith album which has withstood the test of time. Beneath his somewhat abrasive exterior, there was a very sensitive human being with a heart of gold. He'll be missed."

Jack Bruce's family tweeted on his official feed: "The Bruce family would like to extend their sincere condolences to Ginger Baker's family, friends and fans. Surviving a love hate relationship, Ginger was like an older brother to Jack, their chemistry was truly spectacular. RIP Ginger, one of the greatest drummers of all time."

Brian Wilson posted on Facebook: "I'm sorry to hear that Ginger Baker passed. He was a great drummer and we all were fans of Cream back then. 'Sunshine Of Your Love' was a great one. Love & Mercy, Brian"

Dave Davies posted: "Ginger Baker was a great and unique musician and an innovator as well -- he will be sorely missed -- I met him many years ago in the old days and saw him a couple years ago in New York and he still sounded great. He always had nice things to say about the Kinks -- i feel bad but he had a good run -- love and blessings"

Carl Palmer wrote: "Ginger Baker was a big influence when I was in my teens. The Cream were one of my favourite all-time bands. I went to see them 8 times. Ginger was always on fire!"

Steve Van Zandt posted: "RIP Ginger Baker. One of the greatest drummers of all time. Begin with Cream's Disraeli Gears."

His wife, and Sopranos co-star, Maureen Van Zandt also tweeted: "Farewell, Ginger. One of the last of rock's remaining wild men. Incredible drummer. So sad to see yet another of the greats from my generation of music leaving us. Yet so happy to have witnessed the greatness."

Flea tweeted: "So much freedom in his playing. What a wildman. Rhythms we've hear (sic) all our lives he plucked them out of the sky. Rest In Peace Ginger Baker."

The infamously cantankerous Ginger Baker was born Peter Baker on August 19th, 1939, in Lewisham, England and gained his nickname from his fiery shock of red hair. His father died in World War II when Baker was just four-years-old. He began drumming at age 15, with his first professional job serving as Charlie Watts' replacement in Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. Baker moved on to the Graham Bond Organization, which also featured future Cream bassist Jack Bruce -- who was actually fired by Baker from the group. Baker, Bruce, and Eric Clapton formed Cream in 1966, with the band folding three-years-later.

Cream released four beloved and groundbreaking albums during their three-year tenure, followed by four post-breakup live sets -- including one chronicling their long-awaited, albeit brief, 2005 reunion. The band's main albums -- Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels Of Fire (1968), Goodbye (1969) — marked the shift between beat-based English pop and more revolutionary sounds, which paved the way for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin.

Shortly before his death, Jack Bruce credited Ginger Baker with the original idea to form Cream with Eric Clapton in 1966: "I did play briefly with Eric with John Mayall, but he left the band, and then I left the band, and I joined Manfred Mann for a while, to pay the rent. Ginger had the idea of Cream, and he approached Eric, and Eric said that he would love to do it, but only if I was in the band, and I was the singer, so that was how it came about."

Cream was one of England's brightest bands of the 1960's, yet due to its sheer force, burned out before reaching the end of the decade. We asked Eric Clapton if he believed that he, Bruce, and Baker had all started on the same page musically: "We had started like that; there's no doubt about it. Cream definitely had an aim and a direction to top in, but we lost it. We lost the direction through just touring without stopping and reevaluating where we were going. Y'know, we got to a point where we were just doing it by numbers and going over the same old ground -- and seeing we could make a lot of money that way. Without really having to stretch."

Following Cream's 1969 split, Baker strong-armed his way in to Clapton's short-lived supergroup Blind Faith with Steve Winwood and Ric Grech. From there, he started Ginger Baker's Air Force, which featured former Moody Blues frontman, and future Wings co-founder, Denny Laine.

Upon moving to Africa in the early-70's, Baker opened his own ARC Studios in Lagos, Nigeria -- where Paul McCartney tracked a single session for his 1973 Band On The Run classic. Baker recorded with Fela Kuti and over the years plied his trade in the studio and stage with a variety of high-class musicians -- including Hawkwind and Public Image Ltd. Baker was also known for his legendary live "drum battles" with such jazz heavyweights as Art Blakey and Max Roach, among others.

In 1993, Baker was inducted as part of Cream in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2005 the band reunited for seven concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall and New York City's Madison Square Garden. In 2006 Cream received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. Jack Bruce died in 2014.

Ginger Baker told us that he enjoyed Cream's brief reunion at the band's 1993 Rock Hall induction: "Y'know, the Cream reunion we did at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame was great fun. The rehearsals in particular were absolute. . . it was, y'know, like 30 years hadn't gone by. It was like it was a (laughs) week ago, y'know? It was really fun, yeah."

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson recalled the issues surrounding Ginger Baker's involvement at 2015's Jack Bruce tribute concert. As it ended up, Baker petulantly left the stage during the all-star finale of "Sunshine Of Your Love": "Ginger Baker decided to grace us with his presence, then, unfortunately, disgraced himself because he failed to complete a rehearsal on Friday or Saturday without walking off in a hissy fit. And he was, basically impossible to work with; I mean, very, very rude to the rest of us musicians who tried to be supportive. I, for one, on two occasions went to Ginger and said, 'Ginger, c'mon, how are you doing? What can we do? How can we make this better for you?' But, he's just a man in a very bad mood all the time."

AUDIO: IAN ANDERSON ON GINGER BAKER'S BAD ATTITUDE
AUDIO: GINGER BAKER ON PLAYING WITH CREAM
AUDIO: ERIC CLAPTON ON THE DEMISE OF CREAM
AUDIO: JACK BRUCE SAYS GINGER BAKER HAD THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR CREAM