is a British singer/guitarist best known for his association with the Beach Boys
. He is also almost unique among professional singers in having sustained a nearly 30-year career without actually having any singing ability.
A falsetto singer, Baker started out as a solo artist but soon switched to Frankie Valli impersonations, following a surprise top ten hit in 1975 with a cover of The Four Seasons' Sherry.
After the lack of success with follow-ups, he switched to production and songwriting, and had a few minor disco hits with a female fronted band called Liquid Gold.
He released a medley of Beach Boys songs , Beach Boy Gold (a simillar kind of thing to the many medley records that were successful at the time) in 1981, under the name Gidea Park (a band of that name still tours to this day, though without Baker), which made number 11 in the UK charts - Baker's version of California Girls was used in the James Bond film A View To A Kill.
On the basis of this and a couple of follow-up singles was invited to join the Beach Boys by Bruce Johnston, as at this point with Carl Wilson absent from the band (touring his solo album), Dennis Wilson sacked, and Brian Wilson at his lowest point, they desperately needed someone to fill out the harmony parts. However, shortly after this, Carl Wilson returned to the band, and the much more Beach Boy sounding Jeff Foskett was discovered by Mike Love, and Baker's stint in the Beach Boys lasted just over a year before he returned to the UK.
Baker spent the rest of the 80s touring with Gidea Park, performing a mix of Beach Boys and Four Seasons cover versions, before being asked to rejoin the Beach Boys in 1989 after Foskett's departure/sacking. He toured with the band until 1991, and performed many of the harmony vocals on the egregious Summer In Paradise album, before being replaced by Matt Jardine, son of Al Jardine, whose vocals fit the band far better.
In the 80s and 90s between Beach Boy stints Baker recorded many tracks with Mike Love, and over the years these have seen repeated release on compilations at a level even below budget-label level, such as Catch A Wave (promo only), Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and David Marks of The Beach Boys salute NASCAR (given away free at petrol stations) and Summertime Cruising (given away for one week at Chrysler dealerships in parts of Canada, to people who took a test-drive). These tracks, remakes of oldies for the most part (usually Beach Boy songs but also Four Seasons, Ronnie And The Daytonas, Jan And Dean and simillar sounding bands), are almost uniformly horrible, being almost entirely done on cheap synthesiser with bad drum machines. They sound like bad karaoke tapes with Love and Baker's off-key vocals recorded in what one can only hope was one take.
Because of this continued association, Baker was asked to join Mike Love's touring 'Beach Boys' after Carl Wilson's death, and has remained in the band for four years, singing mostly Brian Wilson's parts, plus the higher-range Carl Wilson vocal parts (Good Vibrations and Kokomo). He also appeared on Bruce Johnston's album Symphonic Sounds: Music Of The Beach Boys, performing an a capella arrangement of The Warmth Of The Sun. My review of one of the touring band's concerts can be found at The Beach Boys: A Tale of Two Concerts
Recently Baker has been working with Love and Johnston on new material, and there are rumours that a new 'Beach Boys' album produced by him may soon surface. Let us all hope not...
Update 12/05/04 Baker's last performance with the 'Beach Boys' was on the first of May 2004. He has been sacked from the band, but no reason has yet been made public