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2007/216/1 Harmonica (mouth organ), 'Lee Oskar', steel / brass / plastic, made by Tombo, Japan, used by Paul Kelly, Australia, 2000-2001. Click to enlarge.

Paul Kelly’s harmonica

This harmonica was played by Paul Kelly, who is widely regarded as one of Australia's greatest contemporary singer-songwriters, a reputation he has earned over 25 years. His songs show a remarkable talent for telling stories and creating characters in song. As a performer his distinctive voice conveys his lyrics with precision, intelligence and passion. When performing solo, Kelly has often accompanied himself with guitar and harmonica. He demonstrated his skill as a harmonica player particularly well on the album 'Paul Kelly Live 1992'.

Originally from Adelaide, Kelly moved to Melbourne, formed Paul Kelly and the Dots, and recorded his first two critically acclaimed albums on Mushroom Records. He moved to Sydney in 1984 and began writing songs prolifically. With the acoustic 'Post' album (1985) and the monumental, classic double album 'Gossip' (1986), he began to fulfil his potential as a songwriter. The latter album was recorded with Kelly's new band the Coloured Girls, which was soon renamed the Messengers. 'Under the Sun' (1987) contained the hit 'To Her Door'. The album 'So Much Water So Close to Home' (1989) included 'Careless', while a highlight of the fourth and final album with this band, 'Comedy' (1991), was the enduring 'From Little Things Big Things Grow'.

In 1991 Kelly co-produced Archie Roach's debut album 'Charcoal Lane' and collaborated with Yothu Yindi on their hit single 'Treaty'. He also produced Renee Geyer's 'Difficult Woman' (1993). Since then he has released studio albums under his own name and with Professor Ratbaggy, Uncle Bill, the Stardust Five and the Storm Water Boys. A compilation of twenty of his best songs was released in 1997 as 'Songs from the South: Paul Kelly's Greatest Hits'. In 1997 he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Kelly's songs have been published by Mushroom Music and more recently by Universal Music. Angus and Robertson published a book of his song lyrics, 'Don't Start Me Talking: Lyrics 1984-2004', which has been a prescribed poetry text for the Victorian Certificate of Education.


Object No.


Object Statement

Harmonica (mouth organ), 'Lee Oskar', steel / brass / plastic, made by Tombo, Japan, used by Paul Kelly, Australia, 2000-2001

Physical Description

Harmonica (mouth organ), 'Lee Oskar', stainless steel / brass / plastic, made by Tombo, Japan, used by Paul Kelly, Australia, 2000-2001

Silver coloured diatonic (non-chromatic) harmonica. Stainless steel cover plates, plastic comb, brass reed plate. Top has 'Harmonica by Tombo. Lee Oskar TM' engraved. Bottom has 'Tombo. Japan. Lee Oskar' engraved. Back has the words 'Lee Oskar TM', and front has the letter 'A' to indicate the key of the harmonica.



18 mm


102 mm


29 mm




Made in Japan by Tombo, 2000-2001.



Owned by Paul Kelly and used by him in performances c. 2000-2001. Lent by Paul Kelly to the Powerhouse Museum for display in the exhibition 'Spinning around: 50 years of Festival Records' in the section looking at Mushroom Records, and subsequently donated by him.


Credit Line

Gift of Paul Kelly, 2007

Acquisition Date

17 December 2007

Cite this Object


Paul Kelly's harmonica 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Paul Kelly's harmonica |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.