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In the news: Omar Hakim

9/7/2017, 9 a.m.
Omar Hakim, a master drummer who played on countless hits, from David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” ...
Omar Hakim

Omar Hakim, a master drummer who played on countless hits, from David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” has been named the new Chair of the Percussion Department at Berklee College of Music.

Hakim is one of the most influential and sought-after drummers of the past 40 years. Renowned for his versatility, Hakim has hundreds of albums to his credit, collaborating with scores of prominent artists including Miles Davis, Madonna, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, D’Angelo and Bowie, who described him “a fascinating drummer, with impeccable timing” and “always fresh in his approach.” Hakim succeeds John Ramsey, who had been chair since 2008.

“As one of the standard bearers of drumming and modern music for more than three decades, Omar Hakim will have an immediate and profound impact on our students and faculty,” said Ron Savage, interim dean of Berklee’s professional performance division.

Hakim took up drums when he was five. By 10, he was touring with his father. His first big break came in 1980, when he was hired to play in Carly Simon’s band. He rose to greater prominence as member of the pivotal fusion band Weather Report.

He went on to work with Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Dire Straits (“Brothers in Arms”), Miles Davis (“Tutu”) and Sting (“The Dream of the Blue Turtles”). His solo on “I Burn For You” from Sting’s movie “Bring on the Night” is considered one of the most powerful drum solos ever captured on film. In 1988, he became the house drummer on the NBC program “Sunday Night” (later renamed “Night Music”). His Grammy-nominated solo debut, “Rhythm Deep,” was released in 1989.

In the 1990s, Hakim toured and recorded with Lionel Richie and Madonna. During this period, he explored the latest advances in electronic drums. His technological prowess established him as major innovator.

In 2009, Hakim and his wife Rachel Z created the band Trio of OZ. In 2012, he recorded with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories, contributing the groove to the hit single “Get Lucky” and other tracks. In 2014, he released his critically acclaimed third solo album, “We Are One.”