“A very sad loss, and my condolences to his family and friends,” Winwood wrote in a statement. “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.”
Blind Faith formed following the breakup of Cream and Winwood’s brief split from Traffic; after one year together and one classic LP, Blind Faith also fractured, with Baker, Winwood and bassist Ric Grech laying the foundation for the jazz-rock outfit Ginger Baker’s Air Force, with Winwood contributing to that band’s debut album.
“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 Grech,” Winwood continued.
“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 that has withstood the test of time.”
Winwood added, “Beneath his somewhat abrasive exterior, there was a very sensitive human being with a heart of gold. He’ll be missed.”
Following Baker’s death Sunday, artists like Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Flea have paid tribute to the legendary drummer, as did the family of late Cream bassist Jack Bruce.