Who Played Harmonica for War?

War, the influential band known for their fusion of rock, funk, blues, jazz, and Latin music, captivated audiences with their unique sound. One of the key elements that contributed to the band’s success was the harmonica playing of Lee Oskar. In this article, we will explore the role of Lee Oskar as the harmonica player for War and his impact on the band’s music.

Lee Oskar: Early Life and Musical Journey

Lee Oskar, born on March 24, 1948, in Denmark, discovered his passion for music at a young age. When he was six years old, a family friend gifted him his first harmonica. Growing up in an environment where harmonicas were a common presence, Oskar was drawn to the instrument and its expressive capabilities. He honed his skills by listening to diverse musical genres and drew inspiration from artists such as Ray Charles.

War: Formation and Musical Style

War was formed by Howard E. Scott and Harold Brown and quickly gained prominence in the 1970s. The band’s unique blend of genres and their energetic performances set them apart from their contemporaries. Lee Oskar’s harmonica playing played a crucial role in shaping the band’s sound, adding a distinctive layer of depth to their music.

Oskar’s Harmonica Contributions

Lee Oskar’s harmonica playing became an integral part of War’s music, contributing to their success and recognition. His collaboration with saxophonist Charles Miller created iconic moments in their songs, such as the 12-note call-and-response in the hit track “Low Rider.” Oskar’s harmonica solos showcased his improvisational prowess and added an extra dimension to War’s performances.

Lee Oskar’s Solo Career and Harmonica Manufacturing

In addition to his work with War, Lee Oskar pursued a solo career, releasing albums that showcased his versatility as a musician. His solo projects, spanning from 1976 to 1981, received critical acclaim and further solidified his reputation as a talented harmonica player. Oskar’s compositions have also been featured in movie soundtracks and television commercials, expanding his reach beyond the realm of band performances.

Furthermore, Lee Oskar is recognized as a harmonica manufacturer. In 1983, he founded the Lee Oskar Harmonica company, which produces high-quality harmonicas suitable for various musical genres. These harmonicas, manufactured by Tombo of Japan, are known for their durability and the ability to switch reed plates, allowing players to explore different tunings and styles.


Lee Oskar’s harmonica playing was a defining element of War’s music, contributing to their unique sound and success. His improvisational skills, collaboration with band members, and solo endeavors showcased his musical talent and creativity. Moreover, his contributions to the harmonica industry as a manufacturer have left a lasting impact. Lee Oskar’s legacy as the harmonica player for War continues to inspire musicians and fans alike.



Who played harmonica for the band War?

The harmonica player for the band War was Lee Oskar. His harmonica playing became a signature element of the band’s sound.

What was the role of Lee Oskar in War?

Lee Oskar played harmonica for War and his contributions were instrumental in shaping the band’s music. His harmonica playing added a distinctive layer of depth and improvisation to their songs.

What were some of the notable songs by War featuring Lee Oskar’s harmonica?

War had several notable songs featuring Lee Oskar’s harmonica, including hits such as “Low Rider,” “Cisco Kid,” and “The World is a Ghetto.” These songs showcased Oskar’s talent and the unique sound he brought to the band.

Did Lee Oskar have a solo career apart from his work with War?

Yes, Lee Oskar pursued a solo career alongside his work with War. He released solo albums between 1976 and 1981, showcasing his versatility as a musician and further establishing his reputation as a talented harmonica player.

Apart from playing harmonica, did Lee Oskar have any other involvement in the music industry?

In addition to his role as a harmonica player, Lee Oskar is also recognized as a harmonica manufacturer. He founded the Lee Oskar Harmonica company in 1983, producing high-quality harmonicas suitable for various music genres.

What sets Lee Oskar’s harmonica playing apart from others?

Lee Oskar’s harmonica playing is known for its expressive capabilities and improvisational style. His ability to create memorable melodies and collaborate with other band members, particularly saxophonist Charles Miller, contributed to the unique sound of War’s music.