Nigel Olsson (born 10 February 1949) is an English rock drummer, who is best known for his affiliation with Elton John. Olsson helped establish the Elton John sound as the first member of John's band, on drums, percussion and backing vocals.
When not working with Elton, Olsson has taken up the role of a session musician. Olsson has composed, recorded, and produced albums for his own solo career.Nigel was Elton John's original drummer. With guitarist Davey Johnstone and bassist Dee Murray, Nigel played on all the classic Elton albums: Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me..., Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Caribou, and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.
The three also provided very distinctive backing vocals; their sound is now considered legendary among rock aficionados.
Elton replaced Nigel and Dee in 1975 after releasing the straight-to-#1 album Captain Fantastic, and Nigel proceeded to make a name for himself as a studio musician as well as record several albums as a solo artist.
In 1980, Nigel and Dee re-joined Elton on tour and in the studio for 4 more years.
Then came another break with Elton, this time for good...or was it? In 1991, Nigel and Davey briefly joined forces in Davey's band Warpipes. Their wonderful album Holes in the Heavens won critical raves, but Artful Balance records went bankrupt and the band was forced to throw in the towel.
Olsson returned to John's band in 2000 as part of his touring band, alternating between drums and backing vocals on certain songs. (The songs in which Olsson was not the drummer, typically the newer songs, were handled by Curt Bisquera). In January 2001, Olsson took over the full-time touring drumming chores when Bisquera left to pursue other projects.
In 2001 Nigel released another solo album entitled Move The Universe on 81 Records. Davey Johnstone and Guy Babylon produced the record, and played on many of the tracks, along with Bob Birch on bass, Elton John alumnus Fred Mandel on piano, John Mahon on percussion and Billy Trudel on backing vocals. Kiki Dee sang lead vocals on "Naked Without You". "Building A Bird" was written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin. (The song was written in 1994 during the sessions for Elton's album "Made in England," but it wasn't used.) "When I'm Dead 'An Gone" is sung by Kai Olsson, Nigel's brother. Nigel dedicated the album to the late Dee Murray.
In the studio, he played and sang backing vocals on several tracks on John's Songs from the West Coast (2001).
He then played all drums on Peachtree Road (2004) and The Captain & the Kid (2006), as well as continuing in the touring band, along with Johnstone, Bob Birch (bass), Kim Bullard (keyboards) and John Mahon (percussion).