Laudir de Oliveira
|Laudir Soares de Oliveira|
6 January 1940 |
Rio de Janeiro,
|Years active||1968 — present|
De Oliveira grew up in Rio de Janeiro, and started working professionally in music in the 1960s, accompanying Brazilian musicians such as Sérgio Mendes and Marcos Valle. In 1968 he moved to the United States. Credited simply as "Laudir", he also appeared on Joe Cocker's 1969 debut album, playing on his hit single "Feelin' Alright".
In 1973, de Oliveira was invited to play with Chicago on their sixth album. As Robert Lamm and James Pankow recalled, "Laudir was an incredible percussionist. He was an incredible player. He came out of Sergio Mendez. 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". According to Chicago's drummer Danny Seraphine, "[Laudir's style and mine] fit together perfectly, creating a layered and full sound that reinforced the strong Latin influence that had been building in our music".
After playing on the albums Chicago VI and Chicago VII as a sideman, de Oliveira officially joined the band in 1975. The blend of jazz-rock and Brazilian rhythm resulting from his presence would end up defining many of the band's hits, including "Happy Man", "Call on Me", "Mongonucleosis" and "If You Leave Me Now". He subsequently appeared on all the albums from Chicago VIII through Chicago XIV. Apart from playing percussion, de Oliveira also provided vocals to "You Get It Up" from Chicago X (1976) and co-authored "Life is What It is" on Chicago 13 (1979).
In 1982, as Chicago's music became more pop-oriented, de Oliveira was asked to leave the band to make room for Bill Champlin. He spent the next five years in Los Angeles, doing session work for other musicians like Chick Corea, Gal Costa, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter and Nina Simone, before relocating to his native Brazil in 1987.
De Oliveira currently lives in Rio de Janeiro, where he is Cultural Director of the Universidade do Grande Rio. In September 2010 he reunited with Chicago on the occasion of the band's concert at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, performing "Happy Man". In April 2016 he appeared as a special guest percussionist alongside former Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine and former Chicago guitarist Donnie Dacus in a performance in New York following Chicago's 2016 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Chicago's biography at Allmusic at AllMusic. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- Danny Seraphine, Street Player: My Chicago Story, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2011, p. 132