Former percussionist for the rock band Chicago.
Laudir de Oliveira, a percussionist who was a former member of the band Chicago, died September 17, 2017, at the age of 77, according to the Brazilian website O Globo and numerous Facebook posts.
Chicago released a statement on their official Facebook page.
“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.”
He passed away while performing on stage in Rio. Musician Jovi Joviniano was playing with him on stage and talked about how Laudir died doing what he loved.
“He had just rained on a spectacular solo, at the end of ‘Fibra,’ a composition by Paulo Moura. It was super applauded. It was his last applause,” said Jovi, who is also a percussionist. “It was a very beautiful energy, and soon we began to play ‘Tenderness,’ a samba-choro of the K-ximbinho. He was playing a beautiful ganzá, and I even closed my eyes. Suddenly we saw that his conga was down. I looked up and he was bent over, his face on the skin of the instrument. He made his way there, in a very beautiful way. Touching, doing what he loved, being applauded and alongside his friends. If poetry exists in death, Laudir died in poetry.”
A native of Rio de Janeiro, de Oliveira started out as a percussionist in Brazil, working with Sergio Mendes and Marcos Valle. He moved to the United States in 1968 and caught the eye of rock musicians and producers. He played on Joe Cocker’s debut album, providing percussion on his hit song “Feelin’ Allright.”
In 1973, Chicago invited de Oliveira to play on their album “Chicago VI.” After playing on the album “Chicago VII” in 1975, the band invited de Oliveira to become an official member. Chicago was incorporating latin influences to their music.
In an interview with writer Debbie Kruger, Chicago members Robert Lamm and James Pankow talked about de Oliveira’s contribution to the band:
“Laudir was an incredible percussionist. He was an incredible player. He came out of Sergio 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.”
In 1978, de Oliveira played percussion on The Jacksons’ album “Destiny.”
As Chicago moved into a pop-oriented sound, they asked de Oliveira to leave the band in 1982. He continued doing session work as a percussionist. He played with such greats as Carlos Santana, Nina Simone, and Chick Corea.
De Oliveira moved back to Brazil and continued to perform with many popular musicians. He became the Cultural Director of the Universidade do Grande Rio. He reunited a few times with Chicago, playing with the band in 2016 in New York City, following the bands induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. De Oliveira was not included as a member in the band’s hall induction.
He leaves his wife, and three children, who live in the United States.
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