After last week's shock announcement that legendary Engish drum hero GINGER BAKER had emerged front retirement to join the revamped MASTERS OF REALITY, young whippersnapper STEFFAN CHIRAZI hopped on the ffirst bus to San Jose to meet him.
Aboard the Masters of Reality bus, mainman Chris Goss, new guitarist Daniel Rey, old hand Googe and myself discuss quietly just what having new drummer Ginger Baker around is all about.
"He sings these 'rugby songs'," enthuses Goss, "dirty limerick things on the bus. It's pretty cool, pretty funny."
Googe: "He really loves playing polo. That's his other passion along with drums. He plays polo every weekend I think, gets up at 6.30am or something to go and play..."
Then in walks Ginger. Tall, thin and wearing a Masters baseball cap, I am introduced and welcomed with a vice-grip handshake along with a quiet South London accent. He grins as though trapped when he spots my tape-recorder. So Ginger, was it the music, the vibe, or the fact that Masters music relates back to your era of music?
"Well, you keep answering the questions for me, 'leading questions' I suppose you'd call them," he replies a touch irritated by the question. He continues quietly, so I move my tape mike nearer. Finally: "I just thorougly enjoyed myself."
There is a silence. I propose to Ginger that there are a host of bands he would enjoy jamming with out there, why not... "But I don't think there are."
Well, is it the songs, is it the people, is it everything? "Well... some people you go in with it just happens, and some people it just don't."
He doesn't seem to know why he's expected to have a concrete reason. Ginger has no real reason for joining the Masters other than the obvious one: he digs their music.
I'm stuck in the question mode, however, and feel it a duty to find some answer. Ginger is obviously beginning to wonder just what I'm trying to acheive. He's polite enough, yet simply out of touch with having reasons for doing these things anymore. I persist: Ginge, is it the fact that they're playing music which relates back to earlier eras?
"Well, in a way it does because it has that something about it. But there was something there in the 60's that was also there in the 50's and 40's - in fact forever beforehand and will be forever afterwards, it's always there.
"That spark, if you like, is what's here. We cause creative sparks to fly in all directions. We've done a new number every rehearsal."
Do you think that there's now more emphasis on how much money a band can make as opposed to how much good music can they play?
"Well, ummm... yeah with people aiming at doing something that's gonna be a commercial success..."
You obviously sat back for a long time just playing and doing your own thing. Was that because it was somewhat distasteful to see things moving that way, or did you just not click into it. Or did you not waste time thinking about the era having gone into that?
At this moment, Ginger and I hit our largest obstacle. He just doesn't understand why the hell I would want to know the answers to these questions. I get the impression that Ginger sees me as a mouthy young buck.
"I think you should be talkin' man, cos you're so... what's the word? ...you're confusing me. What was the question again?"
We all break into loud laughter, as I try to restructure, but I think it's really a lost deal at this stage.
Basically Ginger, when you look at the changes in the industry, do you feel that it's about money now more than it ever was before?
"Well, what I was gonna say is, if you do something that you feel is very good
music, and it becomes a huge commercial success then I think you've achieved what you aimed at. You write music for people to listen to and dance to, and if they buy lots of your records they obviously like it. And if you've done it and like it as well then you're pretty happy." He fixes me with a wise old eye: "It is the music business, you know."
I just wondered what the 60's was like in those respects. Was it love and peace or was it ruthless make-a-mint under all that tie-dye?
"Well, Cream was formed to make money," he chuckles, "as well as being good music..."
I leave the poor chap alone, and let him go off to the hotel for a few hours. In the meantime Chris, Googe and Daniel explain their feelings on having Ginger Baker in the band.
Chris: "Finding a drummer that hears songs and plays songs, that doesn't play 'parts'. That's the main thing."
Does Chris feel there's more of a chemistry with Ginger?
"With Ginger, he hears all the riffs, the licks, the melody in the beat..."
Is that down to him being Ginger Baker, or is it down to the era he came from?
"I think it's something you're born with."
Rey: "It's all ensemble playing. All four of us are thinking of working for the band as opposed to individuals thinking of working for ourselves..."
Later that night, after only their second show together, I step onto the tourbus to say bye. Ginger is in the process of signing a set of old Cream Winterland posters for an older Ginge-freak. The man tells us all that he's seen Ginger six times. Ginger finishes signing, and proceeds to sing a few lines from 'Friggin in the Riggin', one of the bus' current favourites.
A strange, weird and wonderful old fellow is our Ginger. In a strange, weird and wonderful new band. This is going to work just fine.