Milt Holland

Milton "Milt" Holland (born Milton Olshansky; February 7, 1917 – November 4, 2005) was an American drummer, percussionist, ethnomusicologist, and writer in the Los Angeles music scene. He pioneered the use of African, South American, and Indian percussion styles in jazz, pop and film music, traveling extensively in those regions to collect instruments and learn styles of playing them.

Milt Holland
Birth nameMilton Olshansky
Born(1917-02-07)February 7, 1917
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedNovember 4, 2005(2005-11-04) (aged 88)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, rock, pop, R&B, funk, soul
InstrumentsDrums, percussion

Early lifeEdit

Holland was born Milton Olshansky in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Theodore Roosevelt High School. His first instrument was the violin. He pursued a passion for percussion, playing in clubs and shows and on CBS Radio in Chicago. By the age of twelve, he was playing at speakeasies for the likes of Al Capone.


In the early 1940s, Holland toured and recorded with The Raymond Scott Orchestra.

He studied tabla at UCLA and with Ramnad Easwaran. In India, Holland studied with tabla master Chatur Lal beginning in 1963. He traveled through India extensively in the early 1960s and 1970s, then spent many years in Africa studying tribal rhythms. He was among the first to introduce the instruments to western recording.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1946, he played on countless jazz and pop albums, film and TV scores. A sampling of the artists he worked with includes Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Chaka Khan, John Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Elmer Bernstein, Quincy Jones, Nat King Cole, Henry Mancini, Loggins and Messina, James Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, Laurindo Almeida, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Seals and Crofts, Ray Manzarek, Michael Dinner, Gordon Lightfoot, Ringo Starr, Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina, Poco, Captain Beefheart, David Blue, Rita Coolidge, Carly Simon, Cal Tjader, the Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, Maria Muldaur, Randy Newman, and Joni Mitchell. He played pandeiro, congas and triangle on Mitchell's hit Big Yellow Taxi and congas and percussion on Light My Fire with José Feliciano.

As part of the so-called "Wrecking Crew," Holland won several gold and platinum records for his contributions. He was perhaps most proud of having helped desegregate the Los Angeles Musicians Union. Eventually, Holland became the first choice for exotic percussion among Los Angeles freelance session musicians.

In films, Holland played bongos on the soundtrack of West Side Story and timpani the soundtrack of Silent Running, to name only a tiny fraction of his output. He was one of seven illustrious percussionists, including Shelly Manne, Jack Sperling, and Larry Bunker, who contributed to the soundtrack of the John Wayne film Hatari!, playing African instruments on the soundtrack album, The Sounds of Hatari, and its title track. He played for the soundtrack of the TV miniseries Roots. He also played the musical accompaniment for Tinker Bell in the 1953 Disney cartoon film Peter Pan and for the nose tinkle in the TV series Bewitched.

Death and personal lifeEdit

Holland died in Los Angeles at the age of 88. He was survived by his wife Mildred Holland, his sons, Richard Holland and Robert Holland, his grandchildren, Damien and Chloe, and Richard's wife Seiko.[1]

His widow Mildred died on October 21, 2015.[2]


Holland played tabla, pandeiro, marimba, congas, cabasa, quica, timbales, maracas, tambourine, claves, shaker, triangle, bongos, timpani, vibraphone, marimba, drums, bells, tubular bells, wind chimes, log drum, snare drum, cymbals, tambura, cimbalom, cowbell, glockenspiel, Latin percussion, agogo bells and other instruments.[3]


As leaderEdit

As sidemanEdit

With Gregg Allman Band

With Laurindo Almeida

  • Ole! Bossa Nova (1962)
  • Brazil & Beyond (1981)
  • Brazilian Soul (1981)
  • Acapulco '22

With Hoyt Axton

  • Less Than The Song (2007)
  • Life Machine (2007)

With Jennifer Warnes

With Joan Baez

With Burt Bacharach

  • Blue Note Plays Burt Bacharach (1968)

With Louis Bellson

With Elmer Bernstein

With Elvin Bishop

  • Rock My Soul (1972)

With Al Kooper

With Bonaroo

  • Bonaroo (Wounded Bird)

With Charlie Byrd

  • Best Of The Concord Years (2000)

With Captain Beefheart

With Buddy Childers

  • Sam Songs (1955)

With Stanley Clarke

With Rosemary Clooney

With Joe Cocker

With Ray Conniff

  • Friendly Persuasion (1965)

With Ry Cooder

With Rita Coolidge

With Bing Crosby

With Jackie Davis

  • Hammond Goes Cha-Cha (Album -1959)

With Buddy DeFranco

  • I Hear Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw
  • Wholly Cats

With Doug Dillard

  • Banjo Album (1969)

With Helen Reddy

With Doobie Brothers

With Percy Faith

  • Black Magic Woman (1971)

With Victor Feldman

  • Secret Of The Andes (1982)

With José Feliciano

  • Feliciano! (1968)
  • Souled (1968)
  • 10 to 23 (1969)
  • And the Feeling's Good (1974)

With Glen Campbell

With The 5th Dimension

  • Age of Aquarius (1969)
  • Individually & Collectively (1972)
  • Living Together Growing Together (1973)

With Jerry Fielding

  • Jerry Fielding and his Orchestra (1953)

With Ella Fitzgerald

With Gordon Lightfoot

With The Free Movement

With Four Freshmen

  • Voices In Latin (1958)
  • The Freshman Year (1958)

With Johnny Rivers

  • Road (1974)
  • Outside Help (1977)

With Jackie Gleason

  • The Now Sound For Today's Lovers (1969)

With Graham Central Station

With Arlo Guthrie

With Dirk Hamilton

  • You Can Sing on the Left or Bark on the Right

With Richard Harris

With Joni James

  • Like Three O'Clock In The Morning (1963)
  • After Hours (1963)

With Pete Jolly

With Quincy Jones

With Stan Kenton

  • Retrospective

With Claudia Lennear

  • Phew (1973)

With Ringo Starr

With Little Feat

With Kenny Loggins

With Loggins & Messina

With Henry Mancini

  • The Latin Sound Of Henry Mancini (1965)
  • Mancini '67 (1966)
  • Mancini Salutes Sousa (1972)

With Carly Simon

With Johnny Mandel

With Herbie Mann

With Melanie

With Joni Mitchell

With The Monkees

With Randy Newman

With Harry Nilsson

With Martha Reeves

  • Martha Reeves (1974)

With Anita O'Day

With Gabby Pahinui

  • Best Of The Gabby Band (1971–1979)

With Van Dyke Parks

With Oscar Peterson

  • Oscar Peterson and Friends (1952)

With Poco

  • The Best of Poco (2000)

With Dean Martin

  • Young Dino (2006)

With Neil Sedaka

With Ray Peterson

With Bill Plummer

  • Cosmic Brotherhood (1968)

With Bonnie Raitt

With Wendy Waldman

  • The Main Refrain (1976)

With Shorty Rogers

With Rufus with Chaka Khan

With Pete Rugolo

With Sanford & Townsend

  • Duo-Glide

With Lalo Schifrin

With Seals & Crofts

With John Sebastian

  • Tarzana Kid

With Bud Shank

With Ravi Shankar

  • Charly: Original Soundtrack Recording (1968)

With Frank Sinatra

With Nancy Sinatra

  • Cherry Smiles: The Rare Singles (2009)

With Phil Spector

With Art Garfunkel

With Barbra Streisand

With James Taylor

With Bill Thomson

  • Fantabulous (1957)

With Cal Tjader

With Various Artists

  • Samba do Avião
  • A Jazz Tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim

With Nancy Wilson

With Paul Winter

  • Icarus (1972)



  1. ^ "Milt Holland Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^

External linksEdit