Ohio State nav bar

Philip Paul

"Uh, well Sid Nathan like I said, he was very, uh, loud… he knew what he wanted but he had a hard way of trying to convey it to the musicians and we had very good musicians at King Records… just like they chose me for the drummer and percussionist, we had guitarist, we had a bass player and we had a piano player and, uh, they all were accomplished, they all knew what they were doing but sometimes we had artists that really didn’t have a complete idea of what they wanted to do and they needed our help and sometimes Sid would get very tired of hearing the same thing over and he would come down into the studio and try to tell us what to play.  I remember one time he came down…when we were doing the Twist, he came down to the studio and he didn’t like what I was playing so, uh, I heard that he was some kind of a drummer but anyway, he grabbed the sticks out of my hand and that’s a cardinal sin with me, please don’t touch my instrument, don’t touch anything, anyway, he said I want you to play something like this, he said, rap, rap, rap, (NOISE) some kind of… so, I said, okay, I grabbed my drum sticks out of his hand and he went back up to the studio and we said, alright, let’s now cut it.  And, you know what I did, I played the same beat that I was playing before he came down the studio and that made that record a hit, the Twist because it’s the beat that really propelled that tune.  But, I mean, he knew what he wanted. I guess he knew what the audience would accept, you know, the public would accept.  But, that’s the kind of man he was.  He might say anything to you, it wasn’t a personal thing it was just a professional thoughts that he had at the time."

Born in 1925 in Harlem, New York, Philip Paul began learning the drums at the age of nine. He grew up watching his father and uncles perform Afro-Caribbean jazz and was fascinated by the rhythmn; at age thirteen, Paul started playing in his father's band. In 1951, his professional career accelerated when Tiny Bradshaw invited him to join his band in Cincinnati. After moving to Cincinnati, Paul joined Syd Nathan's King Records and became the studio drummer from 1952-1965. He would end up playing on over 350 recordings with arts like Hank Ballard, Mitt Buckner, Freddie King, Grandpa Jones, Cowboy Copas, Bonnie Lou. Paul also played with other notable blues musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Smokey Smothers, and the Roy Meriwether Trio. After leaving King Record, Paul continued playing music at local clubs with the Woody Evans Trio for the next 25 years. Finally, in 2003, he released his own album called It's About Time. Paul has won many awards over his storied career, including a lifetime CAMMY Award from the Cincinnati Enquirer, a 2009 Ohio Heritage Fellowship, and an honorary presentation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleaveland. Paul has continued living in Cincinnati with his wife, Juanita, and stepdaughter, Ramona.

Philip Paul's Traditions episode.

"Loud and Proud: King Records comes back to life"

"Keeping Time: Philip Paul, the consummate sideman, is still working his 70-year gig"

Contents of the Collection

  • Live performance of Paul playing at CityFolk
  • Black and white photos of Paul playing at King Records