Omar Hakim (born February 12, 1959 is an American jazz, jazz fusion and pop music drummer, producer, arranger and composer. He has worked with Weather Report, David Bowie, Sting, Madonna, Dire Straits, Journey, Kate Bush, George Benson, Miles Davis, Daft Punk, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion.
Hakim credits jazz vibraphonist Mike Mainieri with giving him his first break in 1980; Hakim appeared in a video with Mainieri called The Jazz Life and began working with singer Carly Simon through Mainieri. Hakim first came to major attention as a member of Weather Report.
Hakim played drums on David Bowie’s most commercially successful album, 1983’s Let’s Dance, as well as the follow-up, Tonight, in 1984. Bowie described Hakim as “a fascinating drummer, with impeccable timing” and “always fresh in his approach”.
In the mid-1980s, Hakim joined Dire Straits as drummer while recording their fifth album Brothers in Arms. Hakim temporarily replaced the band’s then-permanent drummer Terry Williams, when his performance was felt to be unsuitable for the desired sound of the album after most of the album tracks had been recorded. Hakim re-recorded all the drum tracks on the album in two days and then left for other commitments. Hakim and Williams are both credited on the album (although Williams’ only contribution was the improvised crescendo at the start of “Money for Nothing” and Williams was brought back for the music videos and the world tour). Hakim was also part of the band for Sting’s first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, appearing in the film Bring on the Night.
By this time, Hakim was teaching himself to program drum machines, which put him in even greater demand as a pop, rock, and R&B session musician, and landed him work with Madonna. Meanwhile, he continued his work as a jazz fusion drummer; just a partial list of his credits over the 1980s and 1990s includes work with Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Roy Ayers, George Benson, Joe Sample, John Scofield, Lee Ritenour, Toninho Horta, and Najee. In December 1989, Hakim released his first solo album, Rhythm Deep, which occupied a middle ground between jazz, R&B, and pop, and gave him a chance to showcase his vocal abilities as well. The results earned Hakim a Grammy nomination in early 1990.
During the 1990s, Hakim continued to improve his skills in the realm of electronic percussion, keeping abreast of new technologies. He performed on albums by Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Jewel, among other pop stars, and initially kept his jazz work going as well, though it had tapered off by the middle of the decade.
In 2000, Hakim released his second solo CD, The Groovesmith, which was produced, recorded and mixed in his personal recording studio “The OH-Zone”. In 2010, Hakim formed a band with wife Rachel Z called “The Trio of OZ” and they recorded and toured extensively internationally behind their successful eponymous release. In 2014, he released his third album, entitled We Are One.
Hakim played drums for the Kate Bush 22-night residency called Before the Dawn in London from August 26 – October 1, 2014 at the Hammersmith Apollo.
On June 18, 2015, Journey announced that Hakim would replace longtime drummer Deen Castronovo on their North American tour after Castronovo was arrested for domestic violence in Salem, Oregon.
Omar was featured on the cover of Modern Drummer Magazine in 2014.
Omar was featured on the cover of DrumHead Magazine in 2017.
Omar became the Chairman of the Percussion Department of Berklee College of Music in 2017, replacing the previous Department Chair, John Ramsey.