Lee Oskar ©Suzanne Fogarty
Lee Oskar ©Suzanne Fogarty

Lee Oskar is an internationally acclaimed harmonica virtuoso, composer, producer, and lifelong musical explorer. He is renowned for his iconic role as a founding member and lead harmonica player of the pioneering funk/jazz band that composed and recorded such hits as “Low Rider,” “Spill the Wine,“Cisco Kid,” “The World is a Ghetto,” “Slippin’ into Darkness,” “Why Can’t Be Friends,” and many more chart-topping songs from 1969-1993.  Since then, Oskar and his original band mates from that era perform as the LowRider Band. Oskar also performs around the world with outstanding musicians from the Pacific Northwest, known as Lee Oskar and Friends, featuring his own new arrangements, innovative compositions and well-loved hit songs.

“I try to paint within certain spaces in the music to help create the overall picture.”

Over the years, several Lee Oskar compositions have been featured on movie sound tracks and television commercials. Oskar has contributed to many Gold and Platinum recordings, and has been honored with multiple ASCAP Writing Awards. His hooklines and melodies have been widely sampled, including the recent megahit song, “Timber” by Pitbull, and award-winning songs, “Strip That Down” by Liam Payne and “GDFR” by Flo Rida.

In the words of Seattle Times critic Misha Berson, “The harmonica man can really blow, but he can croon, too.”

With a wide-ranging portfolio of unforgettable compositions evoking different moods, rhythms and genres, Oskar has earned critical and popular acclaim for nearly four decades. Most recently, under the umbrella of Lee Oskar Productions and Publishing, Oskar has brought in highly talented instrumentalists to contribute to exciting new arrangements of his original compositions. This material will soon be released through two recording projects, entitled “Faraway Dreams” (the first of the “Passages” series) and “Lee Oskar & Friends” (the first of the “Cricket In The Box” series.)

In addition, he has brilliantly produced the work of other artists playing Oskar compositions, including Takahiro Miyazaki from Japan, who Oskar considers to be one of the world’s greatest saxophone players, along with songs written and performed by David Rotundo, a well-received Canadian artist and Lee Oskar Harmonica Featured Artist.

Oskar is globally known and loved for his outstanding ability to play in the moment—in perfect sync with his fellow bandmates— and connect with people through his music. As bassist Ted Sistrunk notes, “Lee is an instigator of the collective, who unifies people with his music in an original and incredible way!”

In this connection, Oskar was honored to recently serve as special guest artist and coach at the prestigious “Billy Cobham Art of the Rhythm Section Retreat” at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona, where he coached and performed with accomplished horn players, bassists, guitarists, keyboardists and drummers. and music educators from around the world.

Oskar is also proud to collaborate with Playing for Change (PFC), a globally recognized organization that is dedicated to connecting people all over the world through the unifying power of music, and supporting music education in underserved areas. He performs as a featured artist on the PFC “Songs Around the World” album, as well as their “Listen to the Music” project. Oskar’s company, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, donates harmonicas for schoolchildren in the PFC’s designated schools around the world.

Ever-evolving as a composer, producer and performer, always questing for creative excellence, Lee Oskar continues to create, dedicating himself to his musical passions and making lasting contributions to the world through his uniquely engaging, ongoing body of work.


Background Photo © Shoji Onozawa