The day Ronnie Scott ‘brained’ Ginger
11 October, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary
Ginger Baker, who died on Sunday aged 80, pictured in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2011
THE stories about Ginger Baker, the drummer whose work inspired generations, invariably mention his famous spikey character.
The drummer died this week aged 80 – and the tributes have poured in. While he fell out with many, there is also a sense that he would be just the type of person you’d want on your side if the going got a bit hairy.
Ginger was a regular at Ronnie Scott’s and Diary recalled a lovely interview conducted by Raised On Radio (hear it on YouTube), recorded outside Ronnie’s in 2013, where his tobacco-scarred voice takes the listener back to a pre-Swinging Sixties Soho.
“Ronnie’s really was a great place in those days,” he said as he sits outside the Frith Street club, sipping on what sounds like a very large Scotch and the click-click of a cigarette lighter.
“As soon as they knew you were a musician, you could go in any time and they wouldn’t charge you.”
He remembered his first residency at the venue.
“In 1960 I was given a Monday night with Harold McNair, Gordon Beck and Tony Archer. It was enjoyable,” he says.
These were the days when the club was still in Gerrard Street, and Ginger recalled the occasionally feral atmosphere of Soho at the time.
“There was a man called Chip on the door,” he recalls. “He came in to the club with this caricature of a gangster with him, a raincoat and a trilby hat.
“He came in and followed Chip to the office. Ronnie came running out shouting, ‘he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun!’
“Everyone was running away to the other side of the club except for three of us – me, Davy Small and Mike Scott – we were called The Junkie Department.
“We went the other way. We hit him, disarmed him and held him down.”
He also recalled another incident when a doorman was attacked with a knife.
So Ginger again stepped in.
“I ran over to assist and Ronnie came running out to see what was going on – and accidentally hit me over the head.
“I said, ‘Oi, Ronnie, I’m on your side’.”