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Scharf grew up in Crown Heights and attended Winthrop Junior High School. He was a good friend of guitarist Jay Berliner, who had a major influence on his musical career. In the early 1960s, Scharf was lead guitarist for folk-singer Leon Bibb. He also worked with arranger Walter Raim and folk-singer Judy Collins as well as bassist Bill Lee (Spike Lee's father). For several years he partnered with Martin Gersten, chief engineer of WNCN, in a recording studio at 18 Jones Street in Greenwich Village. They shared this space with folk music broadcaster Skip Weshner.
Scharf was a prolific studio musician in New York City in the 1960s, playing the guitar with artists such as Chad Mitchell, Janis Ian, Al Kooper, and Carly Simon. He also had a producing partnership with Bob Dorough for many years, and together they produced albums by Spanky and Our Gang. Scharf was also the composer of Spanky and Our Gang's hit "Like to Get to Know You." In 1980, he moved to Hamilton Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, where he continued his recording business.
With Charles Earland
- Charles III (Prestige, 1973)
- Betwixt & Between (A&M/CTI, 1969)
With Al Kooper
- You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (Columbia, 1969)
- Easy Does It (Columbia, 1970)
- Naked Songs (Columbia, 1973)
With Hubert Laws
- The Rite of Spring (CTI, 1971)
With Pearls Before Swine
- Beautiful Lies You Could Live In (Reprise, 1971)
With Phil Woods
- Greek Cooking (Impulse!, 1967)
With Spanky and Our Gang
- Like to Get to Know You (Mercury, 1968)
- "Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason" (Mercury, 1969) wrote 6 songs for this album, including the politically-significant 'Give a Damn', which was adopted as a theme song by the New York Urban Coalition, and by New York Mayor John Lindsay during his 1969 re-election campaign.
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