Paul Oscher

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Paul Oscher
Birth namePaul Allan Oscher
Born(1947-02-26)February 26, 1947
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 18, 2021(2021-04-18) (aged 74)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Instrument(s)Harmonica, piano, guitar
Years active1962–2021

Paul Allan Oscher (February 26, 1947 – April 18, 2021)[1] was an American blues singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Primarily a harmonica player, he was the first permanent white member of Muddy Waters' band.[2]


Oscher was born in Brooklyn, New York. He was married to the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Suzan-Lori Parks, from 2001 to 2011.[3]


He first began playing harmonica at the age of 12. His career as a musician began at the age of 15 when he played for the musician Little Jimmy Mae. He named John Lee Williamson as a major influence.[2]

Oscher met Muddy Waters in the mid-1960s. After Big Walter Horton failed to show up for a gig, Oscher played harmonica as a member of the Muddy Waters Blues Band from 1967 until 1972.[4] He was the first white musician in Muddy's band, and lived in Muddy's house on Chicago's South Side, where Oscher shared the basement with the blues pianist Otis Spann. Oscher recorded with Muddy for Chess Records.[5]

After performing solo for a time in New York as "Brooklyn Slim",[2] he toured Europe in 1976 with Louisiana Red. They both appeared at the WDR-TV music show, Rockpalast. During the 1990s, Oscher worked as a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, guitar and harmonica, sometimes as a one-man band. He recorded an album in 1995, The Deep Blues of Paul Oscher.[2] In 1999, he played with Big Bill Morganfield on his debut album, Rising Son.

In 2003, Oscher was featured on harmonica, guitar and vocals on Hubert Sumlin's album, About Them Shoes, along with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Levon Helm. In 2006, Oscher collaborated with Mos Def and recorded the song, "Bed Stuy Parade and Funeral March", on Mos Def's album, The New Danger. In 2008, he recorded with Keb' Mo' on the soundtrack of a film about the blues, Who Do You Love?.


Oscher died on April 18, 2021, in Austin, his home city for the last years of his life, after several weeks hospitalized with COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas. He was 74.[6][7]


2006: Blues Music Awards:

  • "Acoustic Artist of the Year"
  • "Acoustic Album of the Year"

2000: LA Music Awards

  • "Best Performance by Blues Musician"


As a solo artist

  • Knockin' On The Devil's Door (Viceroots, 1996)
  • The Deep Blues Of Paul Oscher (Blues Planet, 1996)
  • Living Legends Deep In The Blues (Blues Leaf, 2000)
  • Alone With The Blues (Electro-Fi, 2004)
  • Down In The Delta (Blues Fidelity, 2005)
  • Bet On The Blues (Blues Fidelity, 2010)
  • Cool Cat (Blues Fidelity, 2018)

With Muddy Waters


  1. ^ Doug Henkle. "FolkLib Index – Musician's Birthdays (sorted by birth date yr/mo/da)". Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Norman Darwen, "Obituary: Paul Oscher", Blues & Rhythm, No.360, June 2021, pp14-15
  3. ^ Dave Helland (October 17, 2006). "Suzan-Lori Parks and Paul Oscher". Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  4. ^ Giles Oakley (1997). The Devil's Music. Da Capo Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-306-80743-5.
  5. ^ Robert Gordon (May 24, 2006). "Muddy Waters – Can't Be Satisfied – American Masters". Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  6. ^ Blackstock, Peter. "Paul Oscher, Austin blues musician who played in Muddy Waters' band, dies at 71". Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Green, Penelope (April 26, 2021). "Paul Oscher, Blues Musician in Muddy Waters's Band, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2021.

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