Paul Carrack was born April 22, 1951 in Sheffield, England. Carrack took to music at an early age and, by the time he as a teenager, became heavily influenced by the Mersey Beat craze of the period. Paul went on to play with a number of small, local acts before traveling to Hamburg, Germany, learning his chops playing the night club circuit.
In 1970, Paul co-founded the Sheffield-based progressive/psychedelic rock influenced band, Warm Dust. Even with a strong influence in rock music, it was clear even in the band’s early days that Carrack’s soulful voice added another dimension to the group. Warm Dust recorded three commercially unsuccessful albums and disbanded in 1972.
Paul left the confines of Warm Dust to form the pub rock band Ace with members two other local bands, Might Baby and The Action. Over the next five years, Ace would release three albums including the Carrack penned hit single “How Long” which went to Nmber 20 in the U.K. and number three on the U.S. charts.
The success of the single “How Long” also took the debut album, Five-A-Side, to number Eleven in the U.S. charts. However, the follow-up release, Time For Another, lost momentum at Number 153 on the charts and failed to produce a hit single. By July 1977, after the release and modest commercial impact of the group’s third effort, No Strings, Ace, had disintegrated. Having failed to repeat the success of “How Long” the band went there separate ways.
By 1977, the music scene began to be dominated by punk rock and new wave and, as a result, Paul Carrack found himself turning to session work. Among his early session projects were two albums recorded with Frankie Miller, Double Trouble and Perfect Fit.
In the fall of 1978, Paul went into the studio with Roxy Music and eventually recorded two sessions with the group, which resulted in 1979’s Manifesto and 1980’s Flesh and Blood albums. Roxy Music also enlisted Paul tour with them in support of the albums, which took him on the road for the next two years. Paul was also eventually featured later on Roxy Music’s critically acclaimed swan song, Avalon, in 1982.
In 1980, Paul Carrack released his first solo album, Nightbird. The album was not a commercial success, and failed to establish Paul as a solo artist. After the paltry impact of Nightbird, Carrack was offered to replace keyboardist Jools Holland in the rock band Squeeze.
Carrack recorded one album with Squeeze, 1981’s East Side Story. The album, which was produced by Elvis Costello and is considered by many to be their best album, included the smash hit “Tempted”, featuring lead vocals by Carrack. Although the song was not written by Carrack, “Tempted” remains one of his many signature songs to this day.
Paul toured North America and Europe in support of East Side Story before quitting Squeeze less than a year after joining the band to pursue other projects and resume his own solo career. Unbeknownst to Carrack at the time, it would not be the last time he would cross musical paths with Squeeze.
After working with Carlene Carter on her Blue Nun album in late 1981, Carrack formed a partnership with her then husband and producer, Nick Lowe. For the next three years, Lowe and Carrack would jointly lead Martin Belmont, James Eller and Bobby Irwin under the names The Chaps, Noise to Go, and The Cowboy Outfit and record four albums by 1985.
During this period, Paul Carrack recorded his second solo effort, Suburban Voodoo, which was released in 1982 and was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as being one of the top twenty albums of that year. Voodoo also featured the hit single “I Need You” which peaked at Number 37 the Billboard pop singles chart, Number 22 on the Mainstream Rock Chart, and Number 20 on the Adult Contemporary Chart in the U.S. Another single, “Lesson in Love”, also garnered some success landing at Number 33 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart that same year. The success of the singles and the critical acclaim for the project helped push Suburban Voodoo to Number 78 on the Billboard pop album chart in 1982.
In between Carrack’s many projects with Nick Lowe and the release of his second solo album, Paul continued his session work, playing with new wave rock acts like The Undertones, The Pretenders, and The Smiths among others.
In 1985, Paul Carrack was invited to participate in the recording of a new project with Genesis bassist and guitarist Mike Rutherford. Rutherford sought guest musicians for the yet unnamed project, tentatively known as Not Now Bernard, which featured compositions written by himself and B.A. Robertson. Eventually named Mike and The Mechanics, the band featured Paul Carrack on a several tracks including “Silent Running (on Dangerous Ground)” which was a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic reaching Number Six on the Billboard singles chart in the U.S.
As a result of the success of the self-titled album, Mike Rutherford asked vocalists Paul Carrack and ex-Sad Cafe front man Paul Young to tour in support of the project. By the end of 1986, The Mechanics had toured both the United States and Europe extensively, had two additional hit singles, and the album had sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning a Gold status from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and peaking at Number 26 on the Billboard album chart.
Before returning to Mike and The Mechanics for a follow-up album, Paul Carrack found time to work on Roger Waters’ Radio K.A.O.S. album, Waters’ world tour, and a third solo album, 1987’s One Good Reason. The solo album remained in the Billboard Hot 100 for nearly half a year, peaking at Number 67 on the Billboard album chart, and resulted in a North American tour.
The One Good Reason album spawned two hit singles in the U.S. including the title track and “Don’t Shed a Tear”, which went to Number 34 on the Billboard singles chart and number 6 on the mainstream rock chart in the U.S. As a result of the song’s popularity (and undoubtedly fueling it to become a Top 40 hit), “Don’t Shed a Tear” also received heavy rotation on MTV.
Paul Carrack returned to The Mechanics to record their second album, 1988’s Living Years. The title track, sung by Carrack, peaked at Number One in the U.S. and became a massive hit worldwide.
On the strength of the title track, the album skyrocketed to Number Thirteen on the Billboard album chart. By the end of 1989, The Mechanics completed another world tour, received a Grammy Award nomination, and earned a second Gold Certified album in the U.S.
The Carrack Collection, released in 1988, was an anthology of some of Paul Carrack’s most popular solo material, including highlights of his work with Ace, Squeeze and Mike and The Mechanics.
In 1989, Paul returned to the studio to record his fourth solo album, Groove Approved. The album featured the modest U.S. hit, “I Live by the Groove”, and the Nick Lowe/Paul Carrack tune “Battlefield” which was later covered by Motown legend Diana Ross among others. The album was less commercially successful than other recent Carrack projects peaking at Number 120 on the Billboard album chart.
In July 1990, Paul Carrack rejoined Roger Waters for the live reenactment of his classic Pink Floyd-penned epic, The Wall. Carrack joined Waters in performing The Wall live in Berlin, Germany in front of an estimated 250,000 fans at the site of the Berlin Wall along with notable musicians such as Bryan Adams, Cyndi Lauper, and the Scorpions among others. The concert was later released as an album and video release. In 1990, Carrack also teamed up again with Nick Lowe, resulting in Lowe’s critically acclaimed Party of One album.
After the concert in Berlin and the project with Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack returned to Mike and the Mechanics to record 1991’s Word of Mouth. During the making of the album, Mike Rutherford began to relinquish some control over the songwriting process, allowing band members more creative input than on previous Mechanics’ projects.
Word of Mouth reached Number 107 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S., failing to achieve the success of previous Mechanics’ albums. The band attributed this dip in sales to the changing music scene and the popularity of grunge and alternative rock music. Between the albums disappointing sales and Mike Rutherford’s commitment to return to the studio with his other band, Genesis, The Mechanics decided not to tour in support of the Word of Mouth album.
In 1993, Paul returned to the studio to work on a classic rock covers collaboration, Spin One Two, with fellow session players Tony Levin, Steve Ferrone, and Rupert Hine. That year also saw Paul’s brief return to Squeeze for one album, Some Fantastic Place, and an appearance on Beth Nielsen Chapman’s album, You Hold The Key.
Paul spent 1994 on tour with Squeeze playing to crowds in Europe, Japan, and the United States. That year also saw the release of 21 Good Reasons, an impressive 21-track anthology spanning Paul Carrack’s career from his days with Ace to present.
Following the Squeeze tour and an ill-fated and unreleased project with Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmit (from The Eagles), Paul Carrack returned to Mike and The Mechanics to record their fourth effort, Beggar on a Beach of Gold. Interestingly, Schmit and Felder used one of the Carrack co-written tunes, “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” for the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over album, which won an award for being the most played single in America that year.
Unfortunately, Beggar on a Beach of Gold did not share the same success. The release once again lacked commercial recognition in North America; however, one single co-written by Carrack, “Over My Shoulder,” did achieve modest success in Europe.
After a European tour in support of the Beggar album, The Mechanics returned with Hits, a collection spanning their first four studio efforts and one new track, a remake of their hit “All I Need is a Miracle” sung by fellow Mechanic Paul Young. Atlantic Records, the band’s U.S. record company, opted not to release the compilation due to the weak album sales of Word of Mouth and Beggar on a Beach of Gold and consequently dropped the band from the label.
In 1995, Paul released his fifth solo album, Blue Views, in Europe which spawned the hit single “Eyes of Blue”. In 1996, the album went Gold in Spain, and Carrack toured Europe with Sting in support of the project. Blue Views was finally released in North America in 1997. The album garnered critical acclaim, and the single “For Once in Our Lives” reached Number Three on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart in the U.S.
Having firmly established himself as a gifted songwriter and musician, Paul Carrack went on to do session work with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Elton John, Van Morrison, and others. He even managed to squeeze in some session work with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett for his Genesis Revisited album, remaking the Genesis classic, “Your Own Special Way”.
Among the many popular recordings Paul Carrack graced was “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” which was the B-side to “Candle in the Wind ‘97” – one of the best selling singles ever released. The single sold in excess of 31.8 million copies worldwide according to the Guinness Book of Records (including more than nine million in the U.S.).
Bythe time Paul Carrack released his sixth solo album, 1997’s Beautiful World, his European record label went through some management changes, which Carrack blamed for the lack of success the album achieved. While the album did no better in North America, Paul decided to release future albums independently to avoid the politics of the major labels.
Shortly after becoming an independent artist, Paul founded his own record label, Carrack-UK, and his own official website, www.carrack-uk.com. With the barriers of the music industry executives and major labels behind him, Carrack began work on his next solo album.
The first result of this independence came in 2000 with the release of his seventh solo album, Satisfy My Soul. The album was a slight departure from previous efforts, with Carrack drawing more heavily than ever from 1960s and 1970s soul influences meshed with a strong pop feel. The album also featured three collaborations with ex-Squeeze band mate Chris Difford. Initially only available in Europe, the album earned a great deal of critical acclaim and eventually found North American distribution for the album later that year.
On July 15, 2000, Paul Carrack received some tragic news. Fellow Mike and the Mechanics band mate Paul Young died of a heart attack in his home in England. Carrack had just finished up a Mechanics tour with Young in 1999 for the M6 album.
As a result of Young’s tragic passing, Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack reunited shortly thereafter for a Paul Young tribute concert along with former members of Paul Young’s other noted band, Sad Cafe, in Young’s home town of Manchester, England.
The impact of Young’s death initially led surviving Mechanics members Carrack and Rutherford to state that they would continue, but not tour in support of future efforts. This decision would be one that the band would struggle with over the next few years. Eventually, Carrack and Rutherford decided that Young would have wanted them to carry on without him.
The European tour in support of the Satisfy My Soul later hit the road and climaxed on May 4, 2001, when, just after Paul’s 50th birthday, he sold out the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London, England for the first time as a solo artist. The event featured several guest musicians from Paul’s past, including: Nick Lowe, Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson from Mike and The Mechanics, Rod Argent, and Squeeze songsmiths Chris Difford and Glen Tillbrook.
While still touring in support of Satisfy My Soul, Carrack began the early stages of his next album, 2001’s Groovin’. The project, which was not released in North America, was a cover album that paid homage to an array of artists that influenced Carrack, including James Taylor, The Young Rascals, Van Morrison, The Isley Brothers, and Bill Withers, to name but a few.
In the fall of 2001, Paul Carrack also found time to return to the studio with Mike Rutherford to start work on a new Mike and The Mechanics album, Rewired. This project would be worked on sporadically over the next few years in between Carrack’s solo activities and demanding tour schedule.
In 2002, Carrack toured Europe extensively for the Groovin’ album, with upwards of 50 dates. During this period, the Groovin’ album was repacked with bonus tracks, a slight album cover art variation, and an extra DVD-single under the name Still Groovin’.
Paul received the accolade of being invited, alongside the likes of Mariah Carey and Phil Collins, to serve as a special guest tutor on the 2002 Operacion Triunfo, the Spanish version of Fame Academy, filmed at Barcelona’s Acadamia. The phenomenally successful show, which goes out live 24 hours per day on its own special Operacion Triunfo channel, has achieved the biggest viewing figures for any show of its kind worldwide - a whopping 70 percent audience share.
In 2003, Paul Carrack released It Ain’t Over, his eighth solo effort. A slightly more upbeat album that 2000’s Satisfy My Soul, the release featured soulful tracks along side a few straight forward pop tunes like the Chris Difford co-written tune, “She Lived Down yhe Street”. Like Satisfy My Soul, the album was almost entirely performed by Carrack including drums, vocals, guitars, keyboards, and bass guitar. Paul even produced the album. Like previous efforts, It Ain't Over was critically well received on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003, Paul Carrack returned to the singles charts in the United States with the single “Happy to See You Again”, cracking the top 40 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.
During this period, Paul Carrack was contacted by former Beatle Ringo Starr, who was pulling together a new touring band for a summer 2003 North American tour in support of his latest release Ringorama. Having been asked once before and being unable to commit due to other professional obligations, Carrack signed on this time around and joined John Waite, Colin Hay, Sheila E., and Mark Rivera on tour across the United States and Canada.
At the completion of the Ringo Starr tour, Paul Carrack returned to Europe to embark on another leg of solo touring in support of his own It Ain’t Over album through spring 2004. In June 2004, the Mike and the Mechanics album, Rewired, was released in Europe and Asia. Despite the previous decision not to tour without Paul Young, Rutherford and Carrack decided to tour Europe briefly in support of the Rewired album, including a few European dates opening for Phil Collins.
The highlight of 2004 was the release of the 2003 Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band summer tour on compact disc and DV, as well as Paul Carrack’s first live album, Live At The Opera House, a double disc set and DVD recorded in Buxton, England in January.
In March 2005, Carrack released a follow-up double live album and DVD, Live in Liverpool, recorded live in England in October 2004 as well as the first Mike and the Mechanics DVD, Live from Shepherds Bush London, recorded on their 2004 Rewired tour.
I Know That Name (2008) is his fourteenth solo album and includes the single “I Don’t Want To Hear Any More”, originally written by Paul for The Eagles’ recent Number One album Long Road Out of Eden. This solo version features The Eagles singing backing vocals. The album also features a duet with Sam “Soul Man” Moore of Sam & Dave fame.
More than 30 years after co-founding Warm Dust, Carrack continues to record and tour vigorously. His soulful pop style continues to shine brightly as one of modern music’s finest crooners, and the artists he has done session work for read like a who’s who of rock and roll. One can only hope that the journey and legacy of his music will endure for a long time to come.