Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days
Ginger Baker died in October 2019, at the ripe old age of 80. No one thought the wild-man of Rock would live that long – including Baker himself. We all know the expression ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll’, but one could counter this in Baker’s case, as ‘Jensens, Drugs & Rock & Roll’. With wild enthusiasm, Baker had owned no less than three Jensen FF cars. The Museum looks back at Ginger Baker’s wild Jensen days.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Jensen, Drugs And Rock & Roll
Baker had become enamoured with the Jensen four-wheel-drive concept and purchased a second-hand FF in 1968. This car, one of the first made (chassis number 119/017), was finished with a specification of crystal blue with a mist grey roof and blue hide trim.
119/017 had initially been used as a demonstrator car for A.R.D Garages, and was then sold to a Welsh-based company, Modern Building Wales Ltd. With the car just over a year old, it was disposed of. Presumably, the car went back to the distributor for sale.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Baker’s New Jensen FF
The four-wheel-drive V8 Jensen would prove a winner for Baker, and not long after purchasing 119/017, he ordered a brand new Jensen FF through the London-based Jensen distributors, Charles Follett. If he part-exchanged his first FF to Folletts, when his new car was ready, isn’t known. In fact nothing has been heard of 119/017 since that time.
Baker was allocated Jensen FF chassis number 119/099, and the car would be painted white, with a striking stratosphere blue roof – all finished off with dark blue hide trim. Obviously, Baker would take advantage of the Voxson ‘8’ track player option.
It was late 1968, and the Rock group Cream, along with the Ginger Baker name had seeped into mainstream Britain. In fact the order for a brand new Jensen FF probably coincided with Cream’s farewell gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1968. By the time Baker would be collecting his FF, Cream were gone, and a new group, Blind Faith, had come out of the ashes.
Baker clarify’s the event in his book, ‘Ginger Baker Hell Raiser’,
“We returned to London in November, and I took advantage of my new financial status [ Cream had released their album ‘Disraeli Gears’ the year before, and it flew up the charts making the band a fair amount of money] to go back to Charles Follett’s car dealership [ Baker had previously purchased a new Rover 2000 from them], where he showed me a Jensen FF and explained the Ferguson four-wheel-drive formula to me: the prop shaft for the front wheels went in the opposite direction to the one for the back wheels.
The set-up was ingenious; it was a pretty cool car, so I bought my first one in silver grey, registration WOY 64G [ the car was actually painted white with a blue roof, but was repainted silver grey in 1974 for Baker].”
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | A Visit To the Factory
After placing the order, Baker telephoned the Jensen factory and spoke with Richard Graves the Marketing Director, asking if he could visit the factory to see how the Jensen FF was made. Graves said to Baker he would be most welcome at the factory, and a convenient date was arranged.
Baker arrived at the factory about mid-morning and was greeted by both Richard Graves and Wyndham Powell the Sales Manager.
Initial reactions were slightly quizzical, Baker had a slim frame on which he wore very loose fitting hippy-type clothes, his hair was tied at the back to produce a pony tail. Baker immediately addressed them by their first names, and was clearly delighted to be met by both the Marketing Director and Sales Manager of Jensen Motors.
After pleasantries, Baker was ushered through to the factory, where he was shown each of the 13 steps of production, from chassis build to final test.
As the three men toured each stage, Baker was told how Jensens were built up. He was obviously very interested and asked questions to some of the workforce as the tour progressed. He also had the ability to put everyone at ease very quickly.
Brian Clee, a mechanic at Jensen Motors, remembers Baker’s tour of the factory,
“while being walked through the factory, Ginger Baker stopped where I was working, and asked me a couple of questions, then noticing my packet of cigarettes, asked if he could take one. After taking a cigarette, Ginger carried on his tour. Later, he came by again, and blagged another cigarette, and asked my name.
During the afternoon, Richard Graves came over to me with a packet of cigarettes, saying that Ginger Baker had asked him to give them to me. It was a full packet of cigarettes, and Ginger had autographed the box, ‘Many thanks Brian, Ginger’. I smoked the cigarettes, kept the box for a while, after which I guess it was thrown away by accident.”
Clive Kendrick, former finisher on sub-assembly at Jensen Motors, also remember’s Baker’s visit,
“I saw the guys from management coming along in the distance. The whispers had already gone around that Ginger Baker was being given a tour of the factory. As they were moving towards me, I saw Ginger Baker with his hair tied into a pony tail at the back – he was wearing a smartish sports jacket , with a very colourful shirt, which was open at the collar, and was wearing jeans. I was in an engine-bay at the time, and was in the process of wiring up the relay box.
Ginger Baker popped his head into the engine bay and said, “that looks like you need to know what you are doing,”, to which I replied, “you do, but I cheat”. I then produced my hand done sketch of all the wires going to the different relays, along with the wire colour codes. His face dropped into a grin, and the next minute he was ushered on along the tour.”
Baker’s pony tail had not been lost on other members of the Jensen workforce, two cheeky workers said – just loud enough for Baker to hear,
“I wonder why he (Baker) has his hair in a girls ponytail.” As quick as lightning Baker snapped back, “because I’m buying the cars and you’re making them.”
After the tour of the factory was completed, Baker was invited to take lunch with Carl Duerr, the managing director, along with Graves and Powell, in the Directors’ room.
The men talked about cars, and Baker told them about Cream, and his new band, Blind Faith. Conversations led through to his his earlier life, along with his particular interest in drumming.
By the end of the day it was time for Baker to leave, he bid his farewell and Graves and Powell walked back into reception. Both had taken a liking to the Rock Star.
In March 1969, Baker’s FF was ready for collection. By now, Jensen Motors’ publicity company, Good Relations, had been brought into the loop. Tony Good believed it would create great publicity to get Ginger Baker to come and collect his Jensen in person. Baker was contacted and asked if he would come up to the factory, collect his car and take part in a promotional photo session.
Baker agreed, and on the 20th March 1969, the session went ahead. Graves and Powell had come up with a plan for the photo session. Purchasing a toy Jensen FF manufactured by the firm of Dinky Toys Ltd, they had the Paint Department paint the car in the specification of Baker’s FF – white with a stratosphere blue roof. The toy car would be used in one of the photos taken that day.
Directly after the handling over of the car to Baker, the photographs taken on the day were developed and sent to Good Relations. Meanwhile, they put together a publicity release, which, along with photos, would be sent to the major papers,
“Drummer Ginger Baker visited Jensen’s West Bromwich factory where he took delivery of a new £7,000 Jensen FF. Ginger Baker, formerly drummer with The Cream is at present involved in making an album with Eric Clapton (also formerly Cream) and Stevie Winwood – formerly Traffic pop group. Their future plans include a visit to the United States shortly.
The car is Ginger’s second FF and is powered by a 325 bhp Chrysler engine and features the Ferguson Four Wheel Drive and Dunlop Maxaret Braking. The car is supplied by Charles Follett Limited of 18 Berkeley St, Mayfair, London.”
Just one week after collecting 119/099, Baker wrote to Graves stating, “enjoying FF, car now has completed 2,100 miles and is running beautifully..”
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | New Band, More Drugs & Jensen Driving
Three months later and 119/099 was into Follett, rust had appeared in several places under the paintwork and there was some chipping along the edge of the boot area. It needed rectification. 119/099 going into Follett, probably coincided with Baker and his new super-band, Blind Faith, playing their debut gig at London’s Hyde Park.
This debut concert was free, and the band played to an audience in excess of 100,000 on 7th June 1969 in front of 100,000 fans. Capaldi and Wood attended the gig, as did Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull. The setlist contained all six numbers that would appear on the debut album, along with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”, Traffic’s “Means to an End”, and Sam Myers’ “Sleeping in the Ground”.
The performance was well received by fans, but troubled Eric Clapton, who thought that the band’s playing was sub-standard. He spent much of the gig close to his amplifiers and not coming forward on stage – only Baker supplied any showmanship and theatrics during the set.
By Baker’s own admission, after Cream had folded he went back onto hard drugs big-time. It was during this period, that he spent a lot of his time at the Speakeasy Club in Soho, or at Eric Clapton’s Italian-styled villa, Hurtwood Edge, in Surrey. Baker remember’s one such meet-up with Clapton,
“One day he was on his way out [Clapton] when I arrived. He explained he was going to Stevie Winwood’s cottage, and asked if I would like to come. We ended up having this incredible drive down country lanes to Stevie’s place with Eric driving his Ferrari and me in my white Jensen FF.
The lanes around Eric’s house are very narrow and all of a sudden we came across one of those grass-verge-cutting machines blocking most of the road. I jammed on the Maxarets (anti-skid brakes) and squeezed past with a fag paper’s width to spare.
Then I heard squealing behind me as the Ferrari very neatly piled into both the grass-cutting machine and my Jensen. We just laughed and raced on, ending up in a little lane which opened out into large, ploughed field, as we got out of our vehicles an old Land Rover bounced madly across the muddy field with Stevie at the wheel. We piled in and joined some of his friends in a little cottage that couldn’t be seen from the road.”
After the successful Hyde Park gig, the band continued recording their album, followed by a short tour of Scandinavia. After Scandinavia, the band toured the United States, making their debut at Madison Square Garden on 12 July.
A major problem with the tour was that the band only had a few songs in their catalogue, barely enough to fill an hour, which the audience did not know well. Clapton in particular was against any lengthy jamming, which had been Cream’s trademark, which would allowed them to have stretched out a set to a sufficient length. The group were forced to play old Cream and Traffic songs, to the delight of a crowd, which usually preferred the old hits to the new Blind Faith material.
The band toured for seven more weeks in the US, finishing in Hawaii on 24th August. After Hawaii, Clapton and Winwood decided to end the group. Baker had already flown across to Jamaica for a holiday, so wasn’t party to this information (much to his annoyance and disappointment after finding out when he was back in the UK).
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Insanity in Jamaica
Baker had become completely smitten by the FF, possibly he had not incurred the multitude of annoying faults, which many other FF owners had faced, or perhaps the faults were quickly forgotten due to his love of the car. Either way, he was undoubtedly missing his Jensen while away touring.
This led to a moment of financial insanity. Baker had arrived in Jamaica, staying in Montego Bay, and was using a hire car. Missing his Jensen, he had the car air-freighted from the UK to Jamaica.
A film of Baker’s Jensen FF being driven out of the front of the aircraft survives, along with a multitude of still images taken while on his Jamaican holiday. Baker makes mention of his ‘mad-moment’ air-freighting his Jensen to Jamaica in his book, ‘Ginger Baker Hell Raiser’,
“It took a week to arrive, and when it did, it had no windscreen wipers because the FBI had been all over it. They thought I was importing Marijuana into Jamaica, which seems a little odd as the place was awash with it already.
I went with a friend to Kingston to collect it, where I managed to get some tiny Land Rover wipers, and we drove back along the undulating roads in the darkness towards Montego Bay. Suddenly from out of my limited vision afforded by my dipped headlights, a huge cow appeared in front of me ! I just managed to stop , but the bonnet went under the cow, which then somersaulted, leaving a gentle dent in the hood. What a disaster !”
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | A New Jensen FF
With the new MK.II FF & Interceptor being launched in autumn 1969, Baker along with all other current owners of cars were sent an information pack on the much improved cars. Baker was immediately interested, and put an order in for one.
However, his coveted MK.I was not going to be traded against the MK.II. Baker had become very attached to 119/099, and wished to keep this one as well as the new one. The new MK.II FF would set Baker back nearly £7000.
Clive Kendrick, former finisher at Jensen Motors, puts that cost into perspective,
“I bought our first house in 1971, it was a semi-detached house in Kingswinford, which was located exactly nine miles from the Jensen factory at West Bromwich. The house cost us £4,430.”
One of the many slogans going around at that time for the Jensen FF, was ‘It’s more expensive than most houses, and drives a lot faster.’
The MK.II was ordered in the same paint specification as 119/099, although the roof paint was recorded as royal flag blue instead of stratosphere blue, albeit the two blues were very similar. The new MK.II FF, was collected in January 1970, in all probability Baker was the only FF owner to keep both a MK.I and MK.II at this time.
Baker’s possibly unique ownership of two Jensen FFs wasn’t lost on the world of journalism, pop journalist, Judth Simons, wrote in 1972,
“He [Baker], his wife Liz and their three children — Ginette Karen, 14, Leda Kirsten, six, and Kofi Streatfield five — live in a detached house bought seven years ago for £10,000 and now worth £40,000.
Its rooms are packed with the souvenirs of Ginger’s extensive travels — valuables like Persian carpets and carved African furniture — plus a set of unusual African drums which Ginger plays only to amuse his children. He also owns five motor vehicles ranging from two Jensens to a five-ton truck.”
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Ginger Baker’s Airforce
After the upset and disappointment of Blind Faith breaking up, Baker formed a new band, Ginger Baker’s Airforce. The band was made up of Ginger Baker on drums, Steve Winwood on organ and vocals, Ric Grech on violin and bass, Jeanette Jacobs on vocals, Denny Laine on guitar and vocals, Phil Seamen on drums, Alan White on drums, Chris Wood on tenor sax and flute, Graham Bond on alto sax, Harold McNair on tenor sax and flute, and Remi Kabaka on percussion.
Their first live shows, at Birmingham Town Hall at the beginning of January 1970 and the Royal Albert Hall shortly afterwards.
The band released two albums, both in 1970: Ginger Baker’s Air Force and Ginger Baker’s Air Force 2. The second album involved substantially different personnel from the first, with Ginger Baker and Graham Bond being the primary constants between albums.
Ginger Baker’s Air Force also played a set at Wembley Stadium on 19 April 1970, during the start of the World Cup Rally, which went from London to Mexico City.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Baker’s Passion
Baker would drive one of his Jensen FF cars every spare moment of his time. Journalist, Jack Barclay, interviewed Baker in 1970, writing the following,
“His [Baker] great passion is his new 150 mph Jensen FF sports car. “That’s one reason why I’m goin to America by boat,” he said. “I want to take it with me. “Besides, I’ve flown so many thousands of miles that maybe the law of averages is against me now.” Next week the Air Force tour Scotland and the North, and Ginger will make it in his Jensen. “That reminds me,” he said. “I must send your article over to America because some fans will want convincing I’m still alive. It has just been announced over there for the fifth time- that I’ve been killed in a car crash.”
Even when Baker had to appear for musical commitments on stage, one of his FFs wouldn’t be far away. Mike Cole from the 1970’s group, Mungo Jerry, remembered ‘The Hollywood Festival’ held at Madeley, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on the weekend of the 23rd/24th May 1970.
Mungo Jerry were a virtually unknown group at that time and it was this event, which sparked off the groups career, in fact Mungo Jerry were at the gig supporting Ginger Baker’s Airforce. Cole tells us,
“A caravan was made available for some of the lead names to use for changing of dress. Other less known groups like us, weren’t so lucky. I remember ‘Ginger’ Baker driving up right outside his caravan in his Jensen, parking outside, and disappearing into the caravan to make himself ready.”
Kenny Craddock, a former member of ‘Ginger Bakers’ Airforce Band’ also remembered Ginger Baker’s Jensens,
“…he [Baker] would think nothing of running you home, North London to Bromley at anytime of the day or night, at seventy miles an hour in his Jensen. He loved driving and in fact was a very good driver, so the speed never seemed a problem. I remember we got stopped one night and we’d only been doing sixty, which was quite slow for ‘Ginger’.
This cop pulled us over and asked ‘Ginger’ if he knew he was driving over the speed limit, and ‘Ginger’ said, “speed limit ? I can’t get out of fucking first gear in this thing”. He was looking pretty wild at the time in his big African hat and 1970’s hippy fashion, when this poor copper ‘bottled out’, we just tore off down the road.”
Although Craddock believed Baker to be a good driver, he was also known as a wild and sometimes erratic driver – undoubtedly Heroin had not been helping his driving abilities.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Jensen FF 127/217 To Africa
With Baker’s MK.II FF just a few months old, the car was going to be taken over for its debut drive over to Africa. The sequence of events leading to this trip to Africa came out during an interview between Baker and Rolling Stone magazine,
“The night Jimi Hendrix died, we were out looking for him,” Baker recalls. It was September 1970, and Baker was sitting on the toilet at a London airport hotel, injecting heroin as Sly Stone, in town on tour, watched. Baker also had two bottles of cocaine in his possession, and Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix’s drummer, suggested they track Jimi down and get high.
Hendrix and Baker had grown close and planned to record together. Mitchell and Baker spent the night searching in vain for Hendrix all over town; then, tired and out of heroin, Baker injected the coke and suffered one of his near-fatal overdoses. While Baker survived the night, Hendrix died choking on his own vomit.
Shattered by the death of his friend and desperate to get clean, Baker left the music scene. “I had to get the fuck out of London,” he says. “I had the money and the time, so I went to Africa.”
In his autobiography, ‘Ginger Baker Hell Raiser’, Baker also discusses this trip to Africa in his Jensen,
“So Jimi was dead, but I remained impressed with his attitude towards everything. We had a tour booked for Air Force in the States, but it was called off. Liz [Baker’s first wife] was behaving oddly and, looking back now, I suppose I don’t blame her.
To get away from it all, I decided to drive my white Jensen down to Ghana to see Guy Warren [ Guy Warren’s real name was Kofi Ghanaba, according to Baker a master drummer from Ghana. Baker named his son Kofi after him]. I took Aliki with me as far as Marrakesh, where we waited at a hotel for a few days for Robin Turner to fly out with the various visas I needed for the countries I had to pass through to get to Ghana.
Robin also decided that I needed a gun for the trip, so I bought a 9mm rifle and several boxes of ammunition. I put the gun under the floor of the boot with the spare wheel.
I left Aliki at the hotel and that was the last I saw of her for many years. I drove off across Morocco and into Algieria, heading south. I had got as far as In Salah when one of the bolts busted on the alternator. I got a local mechanic to fix it, but then a guy in a Land Rover turned up and asked, ‘ What the hell are you doing with that car down here ? ‘ The road was going to run out shortly and there were loads of rocks and ruts that the car was far too low to negotiate, ‘ You won’t make it’, he added.
I had to drive back to Laghoaut anyway to get someone to re-tap the screw on the alternator, so I decided it would be best to drive back and then fly down. The engine was pinking like mad because the petrol was so bad, and I ran out of fuel at about 3am in the middle of nowhere.
A battered old truck turned up with some young guys and I went with them with a jerry can to get some petrol. A nearby farmer had his own petrol pump so they got him out of bed…
I was back on the road and driving through the Atlas Mountains at high speed by about 9am when I saw a very beautiful chick walking along the the side of the road. I think I spent a bit too long looking at her, because all of a sudden I came to this huge S-bend with a massive drop off the side of the mountain. I managed to do a 180-degree turn and park the Jensen on an olive tree about ten feet down the cliff.
I got out and filmed it and, although the place had been deserted, there were suddenly hundreds of people there. The local copper told me that Allah had been looking after me, because if I hadn’t got that tree then that would have been the end of everything: it was 400 feet straight down to the bottom.
They towed the car into the garage of the local village Aintemouchant, where I discovered that, due to a combination of incredible luck and incredible skill, I had only broken the wish-bone on the front axle.”
Before Heading off to Africa in the Jensen, Baker had sent a postcard to Graves at Jensen Motors Ltd,
“Dear Dick [Graves], Just off to the Sahara in the FF, let you know how I get on, best wishes Pete”
The postcard arrived on Graves’ desk, the problem was he didn’t have a clue who ‘Pete’ was, everyone at the factory knew Baker under his affectionately termed nickname ‘Ginger’. It was a while later when all became clear. An agent from the Stigwood Organisation telephoned Jensen Motors, outlining that Peter [Ginger] Baker’s Jensen FF had been in an accident and required collecting from Africa and bringing back to the factory.
It transpired that Baker had careered off a mountain road, down a ravine. The Jensen hit a tree on its way down, which brought it to a halt undoubtedly saving the life of the driver.
The mystery of the postcard had been solved, Graves immediately set about having 127/217 air-freighted from Africa and having the FF brought back to the factory. If Baker’s analysis of required repairs was correct, then it wouldn’t take the factory long to repair the car and return it to its owner. IN fact it would seem the car was returned to him in November 1970.
Richard Graves had been away when Baker had visited the factory to talk about his damaged FF. Once back at the factory, Graves wrote to Baker. He mentioned he was disappointed to have been away when Baker came to the factory, but was glad to hear the repair shop had been given instructions to proceed with the work. Graves also wanted to assure Baker they would complete the necessary work with the utmost speed and ended the letter,
“…in the meantime it seems that you are back in your previous car and able to motor in your usual FF style.”
By October 1970, 119/099 had covered 20,000 miles……and the ‘thorn in the FF’s side’… hubs, presented themselves again. They had become noisy and were leaking grease. Follett were to deal with the rectification again.
The trouble was the old hubs were to be sent up to Jensen Motors first before the modified units were sent down. With 119/099 incapacitated, the days slowly drifted by with no sign of them. Follett embarrassingly made excuses, while Baker became more annoyed.
Eventually ten days later, Robin Turner from Baker’s record promotion company, ‘The Robert Stigwood Organisation Ltd.’ sent a letter to David Millard the Service Manager at Jensen Motors, requesting the matter of the hubs be dealt with quickly, ending the letter on an ominous note,
“….Mr. Baker has a very short fuse and may explode at any moment”.
Apparently this letter and the hubs crossed in the post. To be fair, Baker’s Mk.II FF was still undergoing repairs, and so without the MK.I, Baker was without an FF to drive.
Bakers’ short fuse was also confirmed by Kenny Craddock, mentioning the fact in the interview given to Chris Groom,
“…..I mean, I never got any of his rath, but some guys did. He was a heavy man, but very lovable and if you were in a spot, he would do anything to help you out.”
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | FFs & Further Crashes
Baker’s friendship with Mitch Mitchell, the drummer with Hendrix, is poignant, as outside of music they had something else in common – both men had purchased Jensen FF cars around the same time. Baker had taken delivery of his FF in March 1969, while Mitchell took delivery of his metallic purple FF in December of that year. Interestingly, both men had the same type of sporty wing mirrors put on their cars, in exactly the same position.
As well as Baker & Mitchell, Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) and Jon Bonham (Led Zeppelin) also bought Jensen FF cars, albeit secondhand. All four were drummers. Baker mentions Bonham in his autobiography, and discusses his death.
According to Baker, Bonham had started taking Heroin, but was a part-time Heroin user. They had got hold of some particularly strong Heroin, and Baker believes he was okay because he had the ‘habit’, but as an occasional user, Bonham died from it.
In November 1970, Baker was re-united with his MK.II FF, and immediately put the car back into use. However, by January 1971, he had crashed the MK.II yet again. Once again the crashed car would need to go back to the factory for repairs. Baker was always keen to check on progress to his car, and would make impromptu visits to the factory.
With 119/099 back on the road, the FF was driving well and Baker was still very enthused with the car, even although he also had the more advanced MK.II as well. In January 1971, 119/099 went up to the Jensen factory, various small problems needed sorting out, including some of those typical ‘silly’ Jensen faults such as draughts from the door frames.
More importantly Baker had decided to upgrade 119/099 to 2.88:1 ratio, which meant of course changing not just the axles but wheels, tyres and later MK.II type Maxaret unit. A leather covered steering wheel went on at the same time instead of the original wood wheel. 119/099 remained at Jensen Motors about three months, between work starting and Baker picking the finished car up. At the finish he was out of pocket to the tune of £857.16.
Baker was still full of praise for the revolutionary FF, in a letter to Jensen Motors, he raised various technical points in relation to his MK.I and MK.II FFs. The MK.I he found a bit faster and steadier in comparison to the MK.II. He put the road holding down to the selectarides on the MK.I, which on setting 4 he found made a marked difference. Baker went on to say, it was a shame selectarides were not continued on the MK.II, the letter ended,
“FF . . . still the best car in the world, in my humble opinion, keep up the good work”.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | The Baker Gurvitz Army & Jensen Recordings
In 1974, brothers Paul and Adrian Gurvitz (former The Gun, and Three Man Army) were looking for a new musical direction. This led them to join up with Baker in 1974, forming The Baker Gurvitz Army.
In their first year they recorded one live and one studio album. The studio album had a range of adapted sounds used within the various tracks. The lengthy Mad Jack was the outstanding track on the album.
Baker recorded a range of wheel spins from his Jensen FF, and used them within the track. Paul Gurvitz remembered the Jensen FF recordings by Baker,
“Mad Jack told the story of a motor race in Africa partly sung by myself with a spoken narration by Ginger, sounding as if he had a bit of trouble with his teeth! He added some tyre squealing sound effects, presumably from his beloved high speed Jensen sports car – fortunately recorded before the fan blade disintegrated and destroyed the engine.”
A further insight to the Mad Jack background noise is mentioned on the Ginger Baker website archive,
“The album was recorded at The Who’s studio near Battersea Power Station in London. Ginger provided the tyre squeals for Mad Jack by doing his famous ‘sideways Baker’ 180 degree wheel spins in the street outside.”
Two further albums were brought out between 1974 and 1976, Elysian Encounter and Hearts On Fire.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Jensen Problems & A Birthday for 119/099
Earlier in 1974, 119/099 was taken into Charles Follett for its 32,000 mile service. Not long after it was used by Baker on a continental run to Amsterdam. Various faults with the car were ‘brewing up’ and although the Amsterdam trip went okay, it was obvious there were problems looming.
By the beginning of October, 119/099 was collected by Jensen Motors and many faults were found with the car including various vibrations, intermittent working of the four-wheel-drive and inoperative cooling fans.
The body was also showing some damage such as deep scratches to the paint, some rust and paint chips to panels including damage around the near-side headlamps, offside door and offside front wheel arch. An estimate of approximately £450.00 was submitted to Baker for rectification.
Baker had gone off for a ‘brief’ one week trip to Nigeria. The fact was, Baker had never got himself completely clean of hard drugs. So ever since 1971, every now and then Baker would head off to Africa in an effort to kick the habit. Baker would just take off to Nigeria, head out into the jungle and play around making experimental music with a group of African drummers.
With absolutely no idea of time, the ‘one week’ had turned into over a month. Jensen Motors were not amused, another ‘dead’ car was clogging up the factory floor and without instruction they could not proceed.
By November 1974, Baker was back, and instructions to proceed were given, which were to include the complete re-spray of 119/099 to silver grey metallic. Other work was to fit MK.II type front seats, along with a leather steering wheel. 119/099 was completed and awaiting collection on 3rd December 1974, at a cost of £865.33. By this time, the car had covered just over 40,000 miles.
Baker was extremely pleased with the finished work to 119/099, as a small present he gave two copies of his latest album, one for David Millard the Service Manager and one for Richard Graves.
Tony Marshall, Sales Manager at Jensen Motors, also received gifts of gratitude. He took home a large poster of Baker in 119/099, along with a special limited printing book with photos of Baker and his Jensen FF.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Epilogue
Baker’s enthusiasm for the Jensen marque continued, and for 1975 he planned to have a demonstration of a Jensen Interceptor Convertible. If the demonstration went ahead isn’t known. Certainly he isn’t thought to have purchased one. His MK.II FF was kept until 1978 and then sold on, and his MK.I FF went around the same time. By the time he left Britain to live in Italy in 1982, Baker was broke, and the cars had gone.
It was an end to the wild-man’s Jensen days.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days | Baker’s Three Jensen FFs
What happened to the three Jensen FF cars Baker owned,
Baker’s first Jensen FF
Chassis number 119/017, registered ‘OAX 33F’.
It isn’t known how long Baker kept 119/017 after purchasing 119/099, or if the car was part-exchanged against 119/099. The Museum doesn’t have any up-to-date information about 119/017, and it is not known if the car survives today. Baker doesn’t mention this car, or indeed the MK.II FF in his book, ‘Ginger Baker Hell Raiser’. We would be very interested to hear from you if you have any information about this car.
Baker’s second Jensen FF
Chassis number 119/099, registered ‘WOY 64G’.
There is some degree of mystery to what happened to 119/099. For decades it had been believed that Baker drove off the mountain in 119/099, the car was retrieved by the factory in the later 1970s, and eventually broken up for spare parts.
Baker states he went over to Ghana in his white Jensen, after a tour to the USA was called off. He also states that Hendrix’s death led him to want to get away from London. If we believe Baker’s memory of events, this means the journey took place around autumn 1970.
He also confirmed he went in his white Jensen. However, Baker doesn’t state which FF he travelled to Africa in. Photographs taken by Baker reveal that he drove his new MK.II FF, chassis number 127/217.
So, what of 119/099. It has been claimed that Baker had become friends with the actor, John Bindon (long associated with the criminal underworld). Apparently, during the late 1970s, Bindon had suggested to Baker that he should report 119/099 as stolen, to get the insurance money from the car.
It seems Baker went along with this, and that 119/099 disappeared in Chelsea. Based on this, it is likely that 119/099 may have been broken up for spare parts at a later date, either late 1970s or early 1980s.
So how and who broke up 119/099 isn’t known. However, what we do know for sure is that in the earlier 1980s, the blue leather interior, along with doors from 119/099 were purchased by a young Interceptor owner living in Brixton, South London. It was his intention to fit these parts to his car.
The engine from 119/099 bearing the number 1408/19D was purchased at some-point by the owner of CV8 chassis number 104/2303 and was fitted to this car shortly afterwards. As with the interior from 119/099 the engine had been sold around 1980.
In 1995 the 119/099 engine was removed from the CV8 since an engine from another CV8 was subsequently fitted. The 119/099 engine resided in a Benfleet located lock up garage as of 1995.
If anyone has further information relating to 119/099, the Museum would be interested to hear from you.
Baker’s third Jensen FF
Chassis number 127/217, registered ‘YYH 27H’.
This car was kept by Baker until around 1978. During the late 1980s, 127/217 was purchased by a Solicitor living in London. He had purchased a MK.II FF new in 1971 from Charles Follett in Mayfair, the car was used for commuting between his London office and his office in Swindon. The FF was disposed of during the middle 1980s, but the solicitor soon regretted the sale and set about finding a replacement car.
The Jensen factory at West Bromwich found the type of FF that he wanted. 127/217 had received much restoration work including a full body refurbishment and re-spray in light blue metallic paint, along with the fitting of a late style Interceptor full wooden dashboard. In keeping with a more modern look to the car, a set of Jensen MK.III alloy wheels had also been fitted.
127/217 was purchased from the factory in 1989, but the new owner was not so happy with his replacement FF, some how he still preferred his old car. By 1993, the car was offered for sale. The car failed to find a buyer during the difficult post-boom years of the early 1990s, and was eventually sold in 2005 by the Oxfordshire-based company, Cropredy Bridge Garage. 127/217 has remained in the same ownership from 2005 to date.
Ginger Baker’s Wild Jensen Days
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Brian Clee, Mechanic, Jensen Motors | Tony Good OBE, former Chairman, Good Relations |Richard Graves, former Marketing Director at Jensen Motors | Paul Gurvitz | Clive Kendrick, former finisher, Jensen Motors | Tony Marshall, former Sales Manager at Jensen Motors | David Millard, former Service Manager at Jensen Motors |Rolling Stone Magazine | Matthew Walsh.
COPYRIGHTS: Jensen Museum | Rolling Stones Magazine | Matthew Walsh
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