More success followed with the number one album The Secret Of Association and the worldwide hit Every Time You Go Away, not forgetting an appearance at Live Aid. Paul sustained that success – while having fun in his tex-mex band, Los Pacaminos – across four decades.
Now, on the 40th anniversary of No Parlez, he’s releasing a remarkable new record and publishing his extraordinary musical memoir; both called Behind The Lens. He’s touring the UK, too, where he’ll meet fans, sing hits and tell stories about his incredible career.
It’s time to revel in the classic hits and learn the stories behind them as Paul steps out from Behind The Lens.
“It’s been fun putting it all together,” says Paul. “I’ve been asked a few times to write an autobiography, but I didn’t really want to do that. My career has been built on music, and so I wanted to do a musical memoir, where I spoke about how I got into music in the first place and what came next.”
Ah yes, what came next. What came next was a series of bands in and around Paul’s home town.
He was in a group called Streetband, who found themselves unexpectedly in the charts with a fun-single, called Toast.
And then he built the hugely successful touring band, The Q Tips, who spent three successful years on the road, playing huge venues, before calling it a day.
By that time, Paul’s then-manager had been asked to sign his artist to a solo deal. His honeyed voice and pop star looks made him a huge star in the making and record labels were vying for his signature. Eventually, CBS sealed the deal.
“Back in the 80s, people imagined that when you get a solo record deal, the money truck arrives, you get handed the keys to a bigger house and all your problems are solved. I can tell you: none of that is true.
“When I signed to CBS, my ‘advance’ was £15,000. That wasn’t much, even in the 80s. I couldn’t even afford to put my keyboardist, Ian Kewley, on a retainer.
“That slow march to a solo deal had been years in the making. I’d been on the road for six years with Streetband and The Q Tips, staying in seedy hotels and schlepping round the pubs. I was glad I’d done it; it had been the best possible apprenticeship for the music business, and you couldn’t get that now.”
While the music press described Paul as an overnight success, he was, in fact, a guy who’d worked hard to get his shot. He was signed by a music industry legend, Muff Winwood, and it wasn’t until his third single, Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home), that he broke into the charts. It went to number one in the UK and Ireland.
“We eventually released Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) in May 1983. I was apprehensive for a while because it seemed that it wasn’t gonna set the world on fire. It moved at a snail’s pace up the charts, literally shifting by two or three places a week. But gradually it made it into the Top 30, then the Top 20. It was agonising.
“Each Sunday, we’d listen to the charts to see where we were – and we never knew when our progress was going to end. The last few weeks we were certain it would falter and stop short of the top spot.
“But then, when it happened, I had to pinch myself on a regular basis. The three of us, myself, Ged and Ian, were in shock. This is something we realised we’d worked towards all our lives but weren’t sure it would ever happen. And at that moment, when it did, it was all hands on deck, back into the studio to finish the album.”
That was the start of an incredible career. He went to number one in America with Every Time You Go Away as he became the face – and voice – of the 1980s.
“Getting to number one is the thing every kid dreams of. You want to be a musician, you want to make a living at it, you want to be in the charts. It wasn’t really until that point that I realised I could do it – I could be a singer for a living. When it happened, everything started going crazy. There was press, there were interviews, it went mad.”
Paul was hugely in demand. Though he always focused on the thing he loved most – the music. He met with, played with, and hung out with the biggest names in rock, including people like George Michael, Annie Lennox, David Bowie and Sir Paul McCartney.
“I got up at the first Prince’s Trust show to duet with George. He’d really wanted to do the show but had got another engagement that same day – but said he’d try to get there to support the cause. He did manage to get there, and we had a conversation. The only thing he knew the words to was Every Time You Go Away, because he really liked that song. I’d already done it once in my set, but we decided to do it again as a duet.
“He got up and sang it like an absolute pro. He was phrasing it in his own way, and if you watch the recording you can hear me saying ‘you next’. Later on, I was doing Wembley on my tour and he got up to do that again.”
Behind The Lens will give fans the chance to enjoy the stories behind the hits of a bona fide pop music legend.
“I’m looking forward to the record, the book and the tour,” says Paul. “I’ll be telling stories when I’m on the road, as well as singing a few of the classic hits. I can’t wait to get started.”