Coleman, Oliver (1914–1965)

By: Dave Oliphant

Type: Biography

Published: June 7, 2013

Updated: October 18, 2015

Jazz drummer Oliver Coleman was born in Beaumont, Texas, in 1914. Coleman was considered one of the leading drummers and successful percussion teachers in Chicago. In the late 1930s he was the drummer for the Earl Hines Orchestra and can be heard on a number of sides, including versions of “Hines Rhythm,” “Ridin’ a Riff,” “Solid Mama,” and “Goodnight, Sweet Dreams, Goodnight,” with the latter showing off his driving style to best advantage. Coleman worked with bandleader Ray Nance in 1940, and during his career he also performed with bandleaders Erskine Tate and Horace Henderson, as well as singer Dinah Washington. In the 1950s he recorded with Marl Young and his Orchestra in “We’re Off” on the Sunbeam label. He did studio work as a session drummer for the Chess label in the 1950s.

Coleman died in Chicago on November 6, 1965.

John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (New York: Chilton, 1978). Harlem Lament: Earl “Fatha” Hines and His Orchestra (New York: Sony, 1990). Dave Oliphant, Jazz Mavericks of the Lone Star State (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007). 

  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dave Oliphant, “Coleman, Oliver,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 7, 2013
October 18, 2015

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