OLDAKER PASSES — Drummer Jamie Oldaker, whose career included stints alongside Eric Clapton and Peter Frampton, has died at the age of 68.
The rocker reportedly passed away at his Tulsa, Okla. home, surrounded by his family. He had battled cancer in recent years.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oldaker took up drumming at a young age. One of his earliest moments of inspiration was watching the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. He’d later grace that same iconic studio stage while performing with Phil Driscoll.
In 1974, Oldaker played on Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard, the rocker’s first LP following a three-year absence due to heroin addiction. Clapton claimed that hearing a demo recording of Oldaker alongside keyboardist Dick Sims helped inspire him to get back in the studio. 461 Ocean Boulevard would go on to great success, buoyed by the hit single “I Shot the Sheriff.” It would be the first of 11 Clapton albums to feature Oldaker on drums, a list which includes Slowhand (1977), Backless (1978) and Behind the Sun (1985).
“He has the best snare sound I’ve ever heard,” Clapton explained to Tulsa World. “He has the best restrained fills I’ve ever heard, and his bass drum is as solid as rock. He is unique, and the pocket is always perfect. The kind of man he is matches his drums.”
Frampton reportedly heard one of Clapton’s songs with Oldaker and determined he had to recruit him for his own band. The drummer would appear on several of Frampton’s releases – including Where I Should Be (1979) and Rise Up (1980) – while also regularly touring alongside the famed rocker.
“Jamie Oldaker has been my dear friend and brother for over 40 years,”
Frampton said in a statement provided to Tulsa World. “He was a very warm, caring, true friend with a gentle heart. He cared about us all almost more than he did himself. Most will know him as the drummer on Eric Clapton’s albums. His playing was unique; a laid-back style of drumming with an incredible feel. We traveled the world, played many wonderful shows and great recordings together. He was a much loved person and I will miss him for the rest of my time here. Love you, Jamie.”
In 1988, Oldaker briefly joined Frehley’s Comet, the group founded by former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. The drummer contributed to the band’s sophomore LP, Second Sighting, before departing.
In a post to Facebook, John Regan, the bassist who played with Oldaker in both Frampton’s band and Frehely’s Comet, remembered his fallen bandmate as a “legend” with an “inimitable musical style and sense of humor.”
Other credits on the drummer’s resume includes work alongside Bob Seger, Leon Russell, Ronnie Dunn and the Gap Band. Oldaker was also a founding member of the country rock group the Tractors. The band enjoyed success in the mid-90’s thanks to their self-titled, debut album which sold more than three million copies and earned two Grammy nominations.
In 2010, Oldaker was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.He is survived by his wife, Mary, and their children, Andrew and Olivia.
Clapton offered a particularly heartfelt tribute: My life had been in serious decline when I was introduced to Jamie, the hard drug had taken its toll and I had lost interest in pretty much everything.
Carl Radle, the wonderful man who played with me in the Dominos and knew about my predicament, sent me a message along with a cassette, saying “you have to hear these kids”, I listened and something woke up in me, I wanted to play again.
‘The kids’ of course were Jamie Oldaker and Dickie Sims, who along with Carl we’re in Tulsa making incredible, sophisticated music, it had everything.
I jumped at the proposition, and we began our momentous journey.
We went as far as we could go, (with me as the annoying burden most of the time), but on the way we made incredible music , sometimes cool, sometimes crazy, but always with a supreme pocket thanks to those guys, all I had to do was float along on top and sometimes just try to stay conscious.
Then another crisis, which separated us all for a while, and I was finding it hard to get back in the saddle, I called Jamie, and for the second time, he saved my bacon.
I have no trouble explaining or defining Jamie’s music, it’s easy; to begin with it’s his sound, he has the best snare sound I’ve ever heard, he has the best restrained fills I’ve ever heard, and his bass drum is as solid as rock, he is unique, and the pocket is always perfect.
The kind of man he is, matches his drums.
He is as solid as rock and I could listen to him talk all night long, many times I have, his knowledge is a wink and a sparkle in his eye, which says everything.
I listen to Slowhand now and then to try and remember what it is I’m supposed to be doing. And I end up listening to Jamie and saying to my wife “did you hear that?”
What more can I say.
Much love and respect to ‘the man’ xxx
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NAME IN THE NEWS — Michael Zilkha; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Steve Bing; Benny Mardones; Joel Diamond; Robey; Don DeVito; Vinny Rich; Second Self; Don Dempsey; Ray Free; Dave Glew; Steve Leeds; Vic Kastel; Jan Guarino; and, CHIP!