Jeff Olson (musician)

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Jeff Olson
Background information
Birth nameJeffrey Olson
Born (1962-07-14) July 14, 1962 (age 56) Wareham, Massachusetts
Occupation(s)Composer, Musician, Multi-instrumentalist, DJ
Instrumentsdrums, percussion, guitar, keys, brass, and vocals
Years active1975–present
LabelsMetal Blade, Century Media, Bullet Proof, Def American, Combat, Escapi Music, Svart, Tee Pee
Associated actsBlue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps, Trouble, Supershine, Wet Animal, Retro Grave, The Skull, In~Graved

Jeff Olson (born July 14, 1962) is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, radio show host, and the original drummer for the legendary rock band, Trouble. He is also the founding member of Retro Grave, Keyboardist for Victor Griffin's In~Graved, proprietor of Upland Recording, and drummer for The Skull.


Following the release of their first two albums, 1984's Psalm 9 and 1985's The Skull, Olson left Trouble in 1986 to teach music while also writing musical scores and later receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in Film Scoring (cum laude) from Berklee College of Music. Olson returned to the band for the albums Run to the Light (Hammond Organ), Trouble (pre-pro for drums, keys), Plastic Green Head (drums), Simple Mind Condition (drums, French Horn), Unplugged and Live in LA. Although not in the band, Olson also played keyboards on The Distortion Field (2013).[1][2]

Olson has toured with Trouble since 1979 headlining shows throughout the United States and Europe, as well as performing at numerous music festivals in Europe including the 1995 Dynamo Open Air Festival (Holland) in front of a record audience for Dynamo of over 118,000 people. In July 2008, Olson announced his departure from Trouble. His last show with them was at "The End" in Nashville, Tennessee on July 19, 2008.[3]

On February 16, 2013, Olson announced that he would be playing keys on Trouble's new album, "The Distortion Field" released summer 2013.[4] [2]

Songs written for Trouble by Olson[edit]

Retro Grave[edit]

In 2006, Jeff Olson formed Retro Grave while still the drummer for Trouble. The debut self-titled EP was released on June 5, 2007 and was written, recorded, and performed entirely by Olson alongside lyricist Paull Goodchild. The debut full-length, Again, was released on February 9, 2010 with guest musicians.[5]

Olson is now collaborating again with lyricist Paull Goodchild and bassist J. Cortes for the sophomore album, "Skullduggery."


Jeff Olson was born on July 14, 1962 in Wareham, Massachusetts. He moved to Aurora, Illinois at age five. Olson first learned to play the piano at age six and the trumpet at age eight. In 1975, Olson began marching for Drum Corps International (DCI) in the Fox Valley Raiders playing Melephone. In 1977, Olson changed instruments with the Fox Valley Raiders and began playing first soprano bugle. By 1978, Olson shocked his horn instructors and auditioned and made the snare line until the corps folded that year. Olson then joined the Blue Stars in the spring of 1978, but the drum line was full. He, therefore, marched the season again as first soprano bugle until he joined the band Trouble in 1979. Olson can be seen on the DCI Legacy DVD (front row first soprano bugle side left).

During Trouble's hiatuses he graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1992 with a BM degree in Film Scoring and later composed music for the Borealis Theater Company in Chicago. In 1996, Olson created the "electronic music ensemble" course when he was a teacher of midi and recording techniques at Waubonsee Community College in Aurora, Illinois. The following year he was commissioned by the Paula Fraz Dance Company in Chicago, IL to arrange and compose original music for the performance of Songs My Mother Sang Me. Olson received the Ruth Page Award for his work on that production.[6]

In 2001, Olson started his own label, Upland Recording, which released two albums in its first year. One was a children's album, Children's Stories From Around the World, narrated by Marie Fraz. The other was a jazz and classical album, Music to Cook By, compiled from his previous theater work.

On July 5, 2010, Olson premiered an internet radio show, Heady Metal with Jeff Olson, via Metal Messiah Radio. Heady Metal with Jeff Olson features interviews with musicians from different metal genres across the board, comedic segments, and music news. Olson's first guest was Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus.[7]

Other projects[edit]

In addition to Olson's work with Trouble and Retro Grave, he played drums on the debut Supershine album (the band formed by Doug Pinnick and Trouble guitarist Bruce Franklin). Olson also played drums on Trouble guitarist Rick Wartell's Wet Animal debut album[8] and was involved in pre-production work and recorded percussion for Canticle of the Plains by Rich Mullins.

In February 2012, Olson started a new band called The Skull, with original Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner and former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner.[9] On May 23, 2012, Jeff Olson announced his departure from the band stating he will "wait for a real Trouble reunion with original members or not play Trouble's music at all."[10]

On December 20, 2012, Olson announced that he will play Hammond organ on the forthcoming debut album from In-Graved, the new band led by former Pentagram and Place of Skulls guitarist Victor Griffin. Olson is also part of the In~Graved touring line up.[11]

In a press release on August 20, 2013, Olson announced that he had a change of heart and rejoined The Skull saying, "I want to rock again." Olson participated in The Skull's 2014 tour celebrating Trouble's 30th anniversary of their debut record, Psalm 9. [12]

On January 25, 2014, Allagash Brewing Company released a pilot beer called "Red Howes" brewed by Jeff Olson. The beer is an Imperial Stout brewed with cranberries and was named after his grandfather who built cranberry bogs in Massachusetts. Along with fellow work mates, Olson pressed 4000 pounds of New England cranberries into 120 BBLS of Imperial Stout. On the release day, Olson performed an hour of live music at the brewery located in Portland, Maine. A CD was given out with each 750 ML purchase of "Red Howes" that consisted of Retro Grave music, Red Howes gospel music, and stories narrated by Howes. [13]

Personal life[edit]

Olson married his personal manager, Leigh Rush, in a private ceremony on Saturday, October 25, 2008. Rush wore a traditional white dress while Olson donned a black tuxedo with his traditional Chuck Taylors. The couple currently resides in Kennebunk, Maine.[14]


  1. ^ "Home". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Original TROUBLE Drummer JEFF 'OLY' OLSON To Play Keyboards On Band's Next Album". February 16, 2013.
  3. ^ "Drummer Jeff 'Oly' Olson Quits Trouble -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  4. ^ "Original Trouble Drummer Jeff 'Oly' Olson To Play Keyboards On Band's Next Album -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  5. ^ "Former Trouble Drummer's Retro Grave To Release 'Again' In February -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  6. ^ "Ruth Page Center For The Arts - Legendary. Dance. Center". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  7. ^ "ザ・片手間副業". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  8. ^ "Trouble". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  9. ^ "Original Trouble Members Form The Skull -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  10. ^ Drummer JEFF 'OLY' OLSON Quits THE SKULL
  11. ^ "Original Trouble Drummer To Guest On In Graved Debut -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  12. ^ "Original TROUBLE Drummer Rejoins THE SKULL; "I Want To Rock Again"". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  13. ^ "Original Trouble Drummer Releases Red Howes Beer". Decibel Magazine. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  14. ^ "Former Trouble Drummer To Release Retro Grave's 'Again' In December -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved February 9, 2016.

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