Pop star Paul Young is at home on tour

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
March 14, 1987

During Paul Young’s last visit to the United States, he impaled himself onstage and was propositioned on national television. He’s still not sure which made him feel more uncomfortable.

“I’m never quite sure when I’m being chatted up,” said the soulful British pop singer. On NBC’s “Tonight” show, actress Sonja Braga indicated she was interested in more than Young’s British accent. “I just sat there thinking, `This can’t be happening.’ It’s quite easy to flirt when you’re onstage, but in private, it’s a totally different situation.”

Young will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre, 70 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets ($14.50 to $16.50) are available at the Auditorium box office (922-2110) and Ticketron outlets.

Although he calls himself a homebody, Young said he is glad to be touring.  He was speaking from Lancaster, Pa., where he and his eight-piece band were rehearsing for their U.S. tour. Young hinted he might follow the lead of his countrymen, Duran Duran – all of whom have homes in New York City. He would be closer to his girlfriend, actress Helen Slater.

Young, 31, is touring to promote his latest album, “Between Two Fires.” Unlike his previous two albums, this LP was written primarily by Young and his band members. Some critics considered that a risky move because his prior hits were covers of old songs (“Every Time You Go Away,” “Wherever I Lay My Hat”).

“I had written some songs on `No Parlez’ and `The Secret of Association,’ ” Young said. “But this was the first time that I sat down to write songs for a specific album. When I set out to make my album, I didn’t think, `Hmm, well, I’ll write all new songs and that will surprise everybody.’ I didn’t feel that much pressure, because I figured that if I couldn’t write anything interesting, I could always do covers.”

Young said he prefers touring to studio work. “I think it’s something bred into me,” he said. “I’ve done so much live work that I don’t feel I’m doing anything unless I’m moving.”

Born in Bedfordshire, England, Young apprenticed at a nearby auto plant. His parents noticed he had an ear for music and encouraged him to take piano lessons. At 15, he and a friend formed a short-lived duo.

Deciding he would find more work with a portable instrument, Young learned bass and played in several bands.

“When I wasn’t in bands, I was always hanging out with other musicians,” Young recalled. “A best friend of mine was a singer — unfortunately for me, because he kept gettng all the work. So I’d tag along with him and kind of try to get in there by suggesting what kind of songs they should play. Every band in my area was playing Led Zeppelin and stuff like that, and I’d be going, `Why don’t you try some blues?’ ”

Young’s leanings toward blues and soul music surfaced on a 1978 single, “Toast,” and in his work as the lead singer for Streetband, a group that disbanded in 1979.

“People ask me where I learned my style,” he said. “I don’t know. I guess all those years of listening to Sam Cooke, Al Green, Sly Stone and all those wonderful Motown artists – those singers must have sunk into my brain because I can’t imagine singing any other way.”

Motown stars were known for their onstage dancing, as well as their singing, and Young follows their example. He rehearses his steps by himself and often tries out spontaneous moves during concerts. Those moves keep girls in the audience screaming and older folks entertained.

“I think adults like my music because I have high-caliber musicians who are great at what they do,” Young said. “And the kids like the showmanship and the light show and all that. But I think I’m kind of treading a dangerous line here, because one or the other is going to drop me like a ton of bricks one of these days.

“But as long as there are people who are willing to come see my shows, I’ll be out there. I guess you’ll just have to wheel me off stage one day.”

Comments (3)

  1. bb says:

    Thank you so much for posting this great article!! It is very hard to find information on Paul, so I really appreciate it. Thanks!!

  2. bb says:

    Just wondering about the first sentence of the article -What did he get impaled on? And how did it happened? Just curious.

  3. Jae-Ha Kim says:

    Hi, thank you for writing. Paul was a lot of fun to talk to. About the impalement…I don’t remember! LOL! I know that bits of the article got edited for length when it ran in the Sun-Times. I will try to dig out my original text to see if I can’t find that info for you. 🙂

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