Why I wanted Ginger Baker for Black Sabbath
Rick Rubin has explained why he suggested Ginger Baker should play on new Black Sabbath album 13.
The producer came up with a list of names including the Cream icon after Bill Ward withdrew from the project. And even though Sabbath vetoed the idea, Rubin had a good reason for putting it forward.
He tells Mojo: “He was on the list I submitted to them. Certain people were dismissed outright by the band, based on having dealt with them on the past, or the baggage. It wasn’t always about drumming ability.
“He was on my list because I wanted to get someone who had grown up in the same world as them, and who jammed the way they did. There aren’t many of those people left. Most of them are dead.
“I was asking: who grew up listening to the same music as them? Who played in bands where they jammed back then? It’s a very different thing from the way hard rock and heavy metal drummers play today. That’s the kind of drummer I was looking for.”
Sabbath eventually settled on Rage Against The Machine sticksman Brad Wilk, another suggestion of Rubin’s. “Of all the people I heard them play with, Brad had the best feel,” the producer recalls. “I got chills when I heard him play with them.
“There were some other very good drummers but there wasn’t that emotional connection or that tension that you need, musically speaking. To me every great band has emotional side. When Brad played with Sabbath you could feel that there was something pulling them. He had that emotional connection.”
He says everyone involved in the making of 13 was surprised when Ward decided not to take part because he hadn’t been offered a contract he felt was “signable.” Rubin explains: “I would love Bill to have been involved, and that was always the intention. When he decided not to be, it really took everyone by surprise.
“It was a case of ‘What do you want to do? We have all these songs – but what’s the process going forward?’ The band said they wanted to continue. Then it was a question of trying to find a drummer who could allow them to continue to do it.”
That wasn’t the only moment of doubt: “When I started working with them, they really hadn’t worked together in such a long time,” the producer says. “It was almost a case of red light fever. There was an anticipatory anxiety among different members of the band; they were worrying about whether it would be any good, and whether they were up to the task. The history and myth of Sabbath loomed large and everybody really wanted to do it justice. No one wanted to do it just for the sake of it. The idea was that we were only going to do this as long as this was going to be as good an album as they’ve ever made.”
13 is released on June 10. Sabbath tour the UK in December:
Dec 10: 02 Arena, London, UK
Dec 12: Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Ireland
Dec 14: Arena, Sheffield, UK
Dec 16: Hydro, Glasgow, UK
Dec 18: Arena, Manchester, UK
Dec 20: LG Arena, Birmingham, UK