When you can claim to be first-call drummer for Kate Bush, Bowie and Sting, you know you're doing something right. And when French disco-nuts Daft Punk wanted a disco-drumming legend to provide the tight but human beats to their groovy robotics, who else but Omar could deliver?
Brothers In Arms
For their huge-selling 1985 album, Mark Knopfler drafted in Weather Report’s Omar, of whom he was a fan, to boost the hits Money For Nothing, Brothers In Arms and So Far Away. Omar’s deft touch and polyrhythmic ability gave the record the kind of gloss it needed. Omar’s versatility was key too; from the laid-back jazzy feel of Your Latest Trick to the rock’n’roll shuffle of Walk Of Life.
Key track: Money For Nothing
Random Access Memories
Omar shares drum duties with JR Robinson on the French robots’ hit 2013 album. Omar gets the more memorable moments, though – emulating Tony Thompson on the Chic-tastic Get Lucky or Lose Yourself To Dance, laying down a wicked, almost drum’n’bassy groove in the second half of Giorgio By Moroder.
Key track: Giorgio By Moroder
Dream Of The Blue Turtles
Sting’s first solo album showed Sting’s more eclectic side, featuring pop, jazz, rock and reggae with Love Is The Seventh Wave and a neat cross-sticked groove on Fortress Around Your Heart particular stand-outs. Omar’s there throughout, showing his adaptability and versatility; his taste and groove are what makes him so in demand to this day, and enables him to straddle all genres like a drumming colossus.
Key track: If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
The 15th album by fusion giants Weather Report was also Omar’s first collaboration with percussionist Mino Cinelu, with whom he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership since, most recently on Kate Bush’s tour. The album is packed with rhythms from around the globe, notably the Caribbean stylings of Hot Cargo, while Marvin Gaye’s soul classic What’s Goin’ On gets a fusion makeover. Omar’s playing, as ever, is right on the money.
Key track: Hot Cargo
Bowie went disco with his 15th studio album, roping in Chic’s Nile Rodgers to produce and consequently spawning his biggest ever hit single in the title track, to which Omar added the tightest of funk beats. He repeated the trick on Modern Love and gave the Iggy Pop co-penned China Girl a shimmering pop groove. Chic’s Tony Thompson also played drums on the album, and both he and Hakim are credited for those three songs. With both drummer on board, Bowie was ensured a tour de force of tight, funky disco drumming and Omar would go on to work with Bowie again on Tonight (1984).