Jay Bulger discusses his new doc about Cream’s Ginger Baker

From left, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton might not have gotten along on a personal level, but their musical chemistry made them a force of nature.

Jay Bulger deliberated about how much of a part he should play in “Beware of Mr. Baker.” The writer and director’s debut documentary focuses on the impulsive and explosive life of drummer Ginger Baker, who is best known as the thunderous beat behind Cream, the 1960s band that defined the term “supergroup.” It might at first seem superfluous to include the personal story of the filmmaker, especially because Baker is such a one-of-a-kind character whose history is dense with so much unabashed sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and violence. But some of those forces inevitably leaked into Bulger’s own life while making the film.

“I was like, ‘God, I’m there so much and you hear my voice, I should probably show who I am,’” says the filmmaker. “And then when he broke my nose with a cane, I thought that was such an indicative moment of who he is and how he deals with people.”

The assault begins and ends the doc, but between these personal bookends, Baker tells of a troubled childhood and how he escaped through an enchantment with rhythm and, soon after, heroin. Both are constants during his meteoric rise to fame and many falls from such dizzying heights.

Lounging in a leather chair in his South African home, Baker often berates Bulger.

“It’s like boxing,” says Bulger. “Sometimes you’ve got to take a couple punches before you can get inside.”

And he does get inside. The drummer opens up about the bridges he has burned between family and friends. Then Bulger interviews those same people, including bandmates Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Steve Winwood. That Bulger would do this is why Baker hits him.

“I loved the challenge of doing a movie about somebody who is so potentially unlikable,” says the filmmaker.

But what really gives “Beware” its driving beat is the vintage footage of its subject, wild-eyed and wild-haired, gangly limbs flailing all over his drum kit throughout the decades and basically looking like a person who is destined to die young.

“As much as you want to hate him, you’ve got to love him because he still keeps going,” says Bulger, “and he never compromises.”

How did Baker react when he saw the film?

“He was like, ‘I loved the first half — the second half, not so much,’” laughs Bulger. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, you mean the half where your life goes to s— and you keep making mistakes, ruining opportunities and squandering for-tunes?’ … If that’s his res-ponse, where it could have been, ‘I’m gonna f—ing kill you,’ I think that’s a success.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Local

Behind the costumes at the Brooklyn Cosplay Fashion…

Echo Chronum, 17, is a quiet and reserved Brooklyn high school student who often buries herself in her homework. But there is another side to…

Local

Reddit helps man locate missing mother in New…

The Reddit community helped Josh Goldberg find his missing mother on Tuesday.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

Movies

Review: 'The Railway Man' is a literal-minded look…

In "The Railway Man," Colin Firth plays a WWII vet suffering from massive trauma acquired from his days as a beaten POW.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC 'targeting' US international Mix Diskerud

Metro New York has learned Mix Diskerud has drawn “interest” from the expansion MLS side, NYCFC.

NFL

Jets announce they will return to Cortland for…

The tradition of holding camp in Cortland began in 2009 when Rex Ryan wanted to get his Jets away from the distractions of New York City.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."