Thursday, 19 July 2018 05:03

Jamie Oldaker: Drummer/Percussionist Extraordinaire

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Jamie Oldaker Jamie Oldaker Photo courtesy of Jamie Oldaker via John Martin

HAMLET - Getting to meet the famous drummer/percussionist Jamie Oldaker and becoming friends over many years has been quite rewarding for me. He and his abilities are something that I have studied for a long time, even longer than I have actually known him. The first time I ran across his name was in the credits on Eric Clapton’s release in 1974 of a hugely successful recording titled “461 Ocean Blvd.” 

He is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and picked up the drums after hearing a recording of Jazz drummer Gene Krupa; he was only 9 years old. Hearing and feeling Krupa must have awakened his inner desire and his talent was soon proven. He played in all the local spots with his peers at the time but as he got older he rose through the many high spots that literally took him all over the world.

He started out on the higher level with Bob Seger’s band in 1971 and was with this group for a couple of years. He was actually preparing for a tour with Leon Russell when he received a phone call from a close friend and Tulsa native, the late Carl Radle.  Carl was in Miami at the studio with Tom Dowd, a very famous producer/engineer. Tom was instrumental in many of the Allman Brothers Band albums, along with many others of the era.

Carl gave some recordings of Oldaker to Eric Clapton and, after a day or so of listening, Eric must have heard something he really liked - he told Carl to call that kid from Tulsa and fly him to Miami because he wanted him to record the album “461 Ocean Boulevard” with them. So, needless to say, when Clapton calls … well, it is just time to go, and that is where a very long and successful friendship started between Oldaker and Clapton; they remain close friends to this day.

Oldaker spent the next several years touring and recording with Eric with various lineups but he was always in the mix. The shuffle style of drumming is what Clapton seemed to lock in with and Jamie was just the best at pulling it off. He has had a lifelong career as a musician and has worked with many famous ones.  In addtion to Bob Seger, Leon Russell, and Eric Clapton, he has also toured with the Bellamy Brothers, Willie Nelson, Peter Framton, Ace Frehley, Asleep at the Wheel, JJ Cale, Taj Mahal, and so many more notable names.

He has been involved in many facets of the music business over the years to include artists, management, and music publishing.  He has also produced his own recording that had a star-studded lineup, including his old friend Eric Clapton. That album, entitled “Mad Dogs and Oakies,” was released in 2005.

There is something in the works at this time with Eric again so keep your eyes open for a new recording. A few short years ago Eric put out a CD as a tribute to the famed, late and great JJ Cale, and of course Jamie was called upon to help complete this and, as you would guess, I have a copy. 

Currently Jamie is living back in the Tulsa area and is married. He and Mary seem to have a wonderful life together and yes, he still tours from time to time, mostly with Peter Rowan. It is mostly the mega-festival circuit and of course the locals call on him quite often to come play, and knowing Jamie as I do, I think he plays as much and as often as he possibly can.

He asked me (and I think he was joking) backstage after playing a show, “Do I still have it?”  I looked him squarely in the eyes and said “Damn right you do, Jamie” with a smile on my face.

He has made time and space on stage for me and it has been greatly appreciated. He is truly one-of-a-kind and has enjoyed a very successful career as an American drummer/percussionist. Jamie, on behalf of all of your fans, I thank you, my friend!

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 July 2018 21:19