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His Life

Life of The Legendary Philip Norman Paul Jr.

February 1, 2022
Paul was born in Harlem, New York on August 11, 1925. He was raised in Manhattan and learned to play the drums when he was nine years old. His father, Philip Paul, Sr. arrived in the US from St. Croix with his brothers, Fred and John. They worked construction during the day and performed in their own Afro-Caribbean jazz band at night. Paul Jr. became mesmerized by the drums played by his uncle, John. When Paul was nine years old, his father bought him a drum set, along with lessons. By the time he was 13 years old, he began playing with his father's band.

Philip Paul began playing drums at the age of nine and played in NY’s Harlem nightclubs as a teen. In 1951, Tiny Bradshaw invited him to join his band at Cincinnati’s Cotton Club.  From 1952 to 1965, Paul became the studio drummer for King Records, as well as two of its subsidiary labels, Federal and Bethlehem. 

Paul created the beat for "The Twist" and was on the original recording by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. After a lifetime playing everything from calypso to jazz to rock and roll In 2009, Paul and his wife, Juanita were honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, as part of their "From Songwriters to Soundmen: The People Behind the Hits". The presentation included a retrospect of his recording background at King Records, his nationwide tours, and his 50- year career as a studio drummer in the Cincinnati nightclubs.

In 2002, Paul was honored by the Cincinnati Enquirer with a Lifetime CAMMY Award for his contributions to the music and culture of the city.

In July 2009, he was honored with the Ohio Heritage Fellowship. The Fellowship was presented during the City Folk Festival in Dayton. The summer-long festival was a statewide celebration of his lifetime of work in the music industry. The Ohio Heritage Fellowship is Ohio's highest honor bestowed on traditional artists on behalf of the City of Cincinnati.

Paul lived in the Evanston neighborhood of Cincinnati with his wife, Roberta. He continued to perform on the weekends at The Cincinnatian Hotel.

He passed away peacefully on January 30, 2022, at the age of 96.