Chicago Percussionist Laudir de Oliveira Dies

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Laudir de Oliveira, via an uncredited photo on Facebook

The Brazilian percussionist Laudir de Oliveira, best known for his work with the band Chicago, has died. Details are not available at the present time but a string of posts on his Facebook page note that he passed away today (Sept. 17). De Oliveira was 77.

Born January 6, 1940, in Rio de Janeiro, Laudir Soares de Oliveira began working as a percussionist in his country in the 1960s, appearing on recordings by musicians such as Sérgio Mendes and Marcos Valle. After relocating to the United States in 1968, he came to the attention of producers and musicians in the rock world, and played on Joe Cocker’s self-titled debut album, supplying the percussion on the single “Feelin’ Alright.”

In 1973, according to a section of de Oliveira’s Wikipedia page, he came to the attention of Chicago, who invited him to contribute to the album that became Chicago VI.

On Sept. 18, Chicago shared Best Classic Bands’ story on their Facebook page and wrote: “We are saddened to learn that former Chicago percussionist Laudir de Oliveira has passed away. We’re grateful for the tremendous contributions he made to the music of Chicago and the enormous talent he shared with us, and with so many others. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in Peace.”

Laudir de Oliveira and Jimmy Page, in an undated photo from de Oliveira’s Facebook page

The Wikipedia article quotes Chicago members Robert Lamm and James Pankow as saying, “Laudir was an incredible percussionist. He was an incredible player. He came out of Sérgio Mendes. At first we experimented with using percussion in the studio, and we liked the way the percussion held the tempos together so much that we decided to keep the percussion aspect part of the band…Terry Kath in particular felt the need for a percussionist to keep the grooves, the tempo steady.”

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Watch de Oliveira perform with Chicago

De Oliveira also contributed to Chicago VII, after which, in 1975, he joined the band as a full member. He played on several of the band’s hits, including “If You Leave Me Now,” and stayed with Chicago up until their album Chicago XIV. He contributed vocal parts as well as percussion.

Related: Chicago’s Now More Than Ever documentary was released earlier this year

When former Chicago member Peter Cetera was debating whether to attend the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2016, he mentioned several past members, including de Oliveira, who were being overlooked. Cetera wrote: “I would also like us to invite past members Laudir de Oliveira, Donnie Dacus, Kenny Cetera, Chris Pinnick, and Bill Champlin to join us up there as well on the song. They’ve all contributed to the legacy of the group and I think this would be a fitting way to honor them.”

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Watch a clip of de Oliveira performing “If You Leave Me Now” on February 10, 2017

Beside Chicago, de Oliveira also played on the Jacksons’ Destiny album, and did session work for artists including Carlos Santana, Nina Simone, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea. He returned to Brazil in 1987.

Thank you to BCB reader Karen M for the tip on de Oliveira’s passing.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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