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Paul Oscher Biography

Paul Oscher born 5 April 1950, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA.

At the age of 12 Oscher was given a harmonica and was soon playing the blues, aided by informal lessons from Jimmy Johnson, a former blues harpist. At 15, Oscher had progressed to playing professionally at black clubs, often in tandem with guitarist and vocalist Little Jimmy Mae. Oscher’s reputation spread and two years after he first met Muddy Waters he was hired to join the blues master’s band. This was in 1967 and Oscher quickly made an impressive mark, chiefly for his exciting playing but also because he had now become the first white member of a major black blues band. In addition to playing harmonica, he learned other instruments, guitar, piano and melodica, taking instruction from other members of Waters’ band. With Waters, Oscher toured the USA and visited Europe to considerable acclaim. In addition to his work with Waters, which included appearing on several records, including Live At Mr. Kelly’s, Oscher also sat in with other noted bluesmen, including Johnny Copeland, John Lee Hooker, Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightning Hopkins, T. Bone Walker, Albert King and Big Mama Thornton. He also appeared with Victoria Spivey and others on New York Really Has The Blues.

Paul Oscher after Muddy

In 1971, Oscher left Waters and, using the name Brooklyn Slim, formed his own band. He continued touring, including a European tour with Louisiana Red but by the 80s was weary of the endless touring and dropped out of music. In 1992, Oscher came back, once again calling himself Brooklyn Slim, played engagements to enthusiastic audiences. Towards the end of the 90s, he appeared with other harmonica players in a package billed as ‘The Super Harps of Muddy Waters’ and he also toured as a member of a band led by Waters’ former drummer, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith. In 2000, Oscher was recognized with the L.A. Music Award as Outstanding Blues Artist Of The Year. Also in the early 2000s, he was nominated for several W.C. Handy Awards and in 2006 won as Acoustic Artist Of The Year while his Down In The Delta won as Acoustic Album Of The Year.

Among artists with whom Oscher has performed live and on record are Johnny Dyer, Mark Hummel, the Mannish Boys, Mos Def and Hubert Sumlin. For television audiences, Oscher’s music has been associated with Martin Scorcese’s series, The Blues, and Stage On Screen: The Topdog Diaries.

  Paul Oscher