Happy Birthday Nigel Olsson

Happy Birthday Nigel Olsson

February 10, 2019

 

Best-known as the drummer in Elton John's early-'70s backing band, Nigel Olsson was born February 10, 1949, in the small Cheshire (now Merseyside) town of Wallasey, England. As a teenager, he lived in Sunderland, where he sang lead in a group called the Fireflies and took up the drums when their regular drummer quit. At 17, he and good friend Mick Grabham successfully auditioned for the psychedelic pop band Plastic Penny, which released two albums from 1968-1969 and scored a hit with "Everything I Am" before disbanding. Olsson subsequently joined the Spencer Davis Group, which was reeling from the defection of frontman Stevie Winwood; the gig was short-lived as Davis broke up the band before the end of 1969, but Olsson met bassist Dee Murray, who would become his favorite rhythm section partner. Looking for work, Olsson filled the drum slot in Uriah Heep for part of the 1970 debut album Very 'eavy, Very 'umble, but soon left to concentrate on session work. He and Murray had been playing with Elton John on the young singer/songwriter's demos and they both joined his touring group in the spring of 1970. Olsson played on most of John's early-'70s classics, including Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy. After the latter was released in the spring of 1975, John sought to shake up his backing band by replacing both Olsson and Murray.
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