Talking about those early days prompts Baker to tell the story of how he first became aware he was a drummer.
I was always beating rhythms when I went to jazz gigs, which I did a lot.
Anyway, I went along, they sat me down at the kit, and I just did it.
I look around for mementoes of his tumultuous life, but see instead pictures of his fourth wife, a beautiful South African woman. “Oh you know, ‘Rock star loses millions and comes back home penniless’. What should have been a sunny semi-retirement in South Africa, playing jazz gigs when it suited him and breeding polo ponies, came last year to an unhappy end.
“You’re not going to do a Daily Mail on me, are you? Makes a good headline,” he says, in a tone that’s almost querulous. He brought a court case against a bank clerk whom he says defrauded him of hundreds of thousands.
The other comes from the documentary Beware of Mr Baker, which opens next week.
The film’s maker Jay Bulger is desperately trying to close the door of his 4WD, while an old fellow flails at him with his walking stick, shouting “You f------ a---hole! He lied to me,” says the 73-year-old Ginger Baker mildly, when I finally get to meet him.
He has the air of a convalescent, his thin and battered-looking frame stretched out on one of those orthopaedic easy chairs with a raised footrest.
We’re in the living room of his modest detached house in a suburban road in Kent.
I remember one of the horn players turned to the other and said, ‘Christ, we’ve got a drummer.’” The whole of Baker is in that story: the need to live on the edge of disaster, the remarkable gift that allows him to perform complex feats of physical co-ordination at the first attempt, the strange lack of self-awareness.
Another story reveals something else: the incredible drive that overcomes all obstacles.
Well I had to earn some money, and this mate of mine said, ‘Why don’t you play drums?