Behind The Lens 2023
On the 40th anniversary of No Parlez, Paul is releasing his extraordinary memoir; ‘Take A Piece Of Me With You’
He’s touring the UK too, where he’ll tell behind-the-scenes stories about his career, meet his fans and perform some songs. It’s time to go Behind The Lens and see what a pop star’s career is really like!
Paul Antony Young was born January 17th 1956. He was the middle child of three, has an elder brother Mark and a younger sister Joanne. His interest in music dates back to when he was very young, when he learnt to play the piano and then the guitar. On leaving school he worked, as did his father and brother, for Vauxhall Motors and played in various bands at night. He played bass guitar in his first and second band, but always wanted to become the singer. However his preferred style of music, blues and in particular soul, was not that popular in Luton. So his second band, Kat Kool & The Kool Kats, gave him a small section in the middle of the set where Paul chose to sing covers of Bill Withers and Albert King amongst others, as well as a couple of self penned songs.
This wasn’t enough though for Paul, and after hearing Paul’s demos at a local recording studio, he left the Kool Kats, and moved to London in 1976 taking up the offer to be in the better known Streetband.
In December of ‘79 Streetband broke up and Paul went on to form the Q-Tips, together with the bass player and rhythm guitarist. During the next three years Paul introduced himself to more and more of the British public through the Q-Tips extensive touring. This period of intense activity gave Paul the chance to develop his unique voice and stage persona. Sadly, although radio gave them a fair chance with such singles as ‘Tracks Of My Tears’, ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ and their last track on the Chrysalis label ‘Stay The Way You Are’, it didn’t really translate into record sales. But that didn’t stop them competing with chart-topping acts of the time such as Madness and Bad Manners in terms of concert attendances, playing 700 shows over three years in the UK and Europe, and supporting such acts as Bob Marley, the Average White Band, J. Geils Band, The Knack and the Who. Eventually the Q-Tips found their large membership of musicians worked against them in the new wave of synth-pop duos, and after struggling to find a record deal, they did one more tour then went their separate ways at the end of ‘82. Paul signed as a solo artist with CBS/SONY Records in that same year.
CBS’ main idea was to get a crack team of great R&B musicians behind Paul and cut the album that the Q-Tips ‘should have made’. However, in Paul’s mind he was now free to use some of the modern influences he had been listening to, and mix them with R&B into a new sound… So the first recordings were tentative, and all songs had to be agreed by both sides!
The first single released in the UK was ‘Iron Out The Rough Spots’ in November 82 but despite strong radio support it wasn’t a success; initially it was the same for the following release ‘Love Of the Common People’. Success came at last with ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’, which maintained the number 1 spot for the summer of 1983. The album ‘No Parlez’ pushed Paul and The Royal Family (his newly-formed band) to the top of the charts. If the rest of Europe didn’t completely agree with ‘Hat’, that soon changed when ‘Come Back & Stay’ was number one in Germany for six weeks, and the rest of Europe followed.
After an exhausting touring schedule around the world (that at one point had Paul doing 13 live shows in 14 days across America), the end of 1984 saw Paul singing the first line of the historical Band Aid record ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ for Ethiopian Famine Relief.
With the second album, ‘The Secret Of Association’ his status as a world star was confirmed. ‘Every Time You Go Away’ hit number one in America in the summer of 1985, (shortly after his appearance at the historic Live Aid) and in any other unconquered countries too. It was and still is his biggest worldwide hit.
In 1987 he went to studios in Milan to record his third album ‘Between Two Fires’ and met the Italian singer Zucchero. They became good friends, to collaborate later.
There followed a period of time out to be with his family, followed by time spent in America where he was to write and record in Los Angeles and New York the material for his fourth album ‘Other Voices’. Released in 1990, it features a duet with Chaka Khan on Bobby Womack’s ‘(You’re Welcome) Stop On By’ alongside appearances by Steve Winwood, Nile Rodgers, David Gilmour and Stevie Wonder.
During this period Paul appeared in The Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert and sang a song by Crowded House –‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ – which his fans pushed him to record later for his 1991 Greatest Hits album.
In 1991 Paul recorded a duet with his friend Zucchero on the soon to be worldwide popular ‘Senza Una Donna’ which, along with the aforementioned ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ were featured on his Best Of album, ‘From Time To Time’. At this time also, Paul had moved the family to California to prepare songs for the next album.
1992 was spent touring the world, which culminated in Paul’s wonderful appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert singing “Radio Gaga” and the release of what turned out to be his final album for Sony, ‘The Crossing’ in 1993. This gave Paul the chance to work alongside some of his musical heroes; Tony Joe White, The Memphis Horns, and Billy Preston among many others. Working with the producer Don Was on the material for ‘The Crossing’, Paul was exploring new styles of music and the gulf between the musical past and future had begun to seem impossible to bridge. The single ‘Otis Blue’ from this album would be the last hit single with CBS, now Sony. Once freed from his contract Paul took time out to take a breath and to reflect; “Every artist wants to change, yet every record company wants them to stay the same”.
In 1993, after ten years of his solo career he reformed the Q-Tips with his old partners for a series of concerts.
Also, around this time, Paul responded to the hiatus in his career by calling up friends and suggesting they get together in an informal group, simply for fun. The result was a loosely styled Tex-Mex band, Los Pacaminos. More of this comes later.
At the end of 1994 he released a compilation of soul songs for Christmas, ‘Reflections’ and went on tour to promote this album.
Touring continued across Europe through most of 1995. Through 1995-6 Paul also prepared new material with long time collaborator, singer-songwriter Drew Barfield and songwriters in Nashville, to assemble a collection of songs for the next album.
A new single called ‘I Wish You Love’ was released on May 5th 1997 in the UK and the album, called ‘Paul Young’ and produced by Greg Penny was released on May 19th.
Two songs from this cd were covered by Country artists; ‘Then There’s You’ by The Wilkinsons and ‘Tularosa’ by Ray Vega. A third song written in Nashville, ‘The Last Time You’ll Ever Have To Say Goodbye’ although not making it onto Paul’s album, was covered by the Country band Blackhawk.
Early 1999 saw Paul getting together again with his friends in “Los Pacaminos”. They recorded a four track CD-ep that found it’s way into London’s only Country music station and their self-penned song “Shadows On The Rise” was played on heavy rotation for three months. Obviously, the next step was an album…
During the summer of 99’ Paul undertook a tour of smaller intimate venues across the UK. Performing new and old material with stripped down arrangements built around his voice and acoustic guitar with piano, accordion and backing vocals provided by long time musical collaborator Matt Irving.
The self titled “Los Pacaminos” album was released in 2002, the year that saw Paul supporting himself on a small tour of the UK, where Los Pacaminos were the support act on a Paul Young tour!
In 2006, with the help of producer Dieter Falk and uber-arrangers Steve Sidwell and Simon Clark, Paul released a Swing/Big Band Album for the German, Austrian and Swiss markets entitled ‘Rock Swings – On the Wild Side of Swing’, and was released in the USA in early 2010… Song choices swing wildly (!) from Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ to Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ to Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’.
In 2009 he toured Israel, New Zealand and Croatia for the first time, amongst the many other countries he regularly visits. These dates were in support of the “No Parlez 25th Anniversary Edition” re-release of his first Solo Album….
Also, Paul’s hobby of cooking turned into more of a career, and after appearing in high profile TV shows such as Celebrity Masterchef and Hell’s Kitchen, and six months as guest chef at a famous local restaurant, Paul released a cookbook, “On My Travels” in the summer of 2012.
In 2014 Paul divided his time between Los Pacaminos in their 22nd year and releasing their new album “A Fistful Of Statins” on June 30th, being a radio dj, promoting his cookbook, recording more Paul Young material, and performing live concerts.
2016 has seen a new solo album release in April from Paul called ‘Good Thing’, a collaboration between veteran producer Arthur Baker and top musician/producer James Hallawell. Also, together with Los Pacaminos he recorded extra tracks for the deluxe versions of both their studio albums which saw their re-release in May. This in turn has filled the calendar with live shows in the UK and Europe supporting all the new material.
Late 2018 saw Paul embark on the first leg of a tour to celebrate 35 years since the release of No Parlez. This continued in the late spring of 2019 thru Europe and the UK ending in July with a trip to Japan and a support slot on the UK Cher tour in Oct/Nov.
The coronavirus put musicians into a forced hiatus for the best part of two years, so during lockdown Paul looked back at many projects he’s undertaken that were unfinished or “put on the back burner” for various reasons. The best of this material was completed during the ‘freedom’ periods and will be heard on a new album to be released in the summer of 2022.
This looks to be a busy year, with postponed tours and new tours rubbing shoulders throughout the year.
Also in 2022 Paul has started writing & recording a new album with Los Pacaminos to celebrate 30 years of togetherness.