Walk into any shop over the next few weeks and you’re bound to hear Paul Young.
As the vocalist chosen to sing the opening line of one of the biggest selling singles of all time, Paul’s place in musical history is assured even if it was David Bowie who was supposed to start Do They Know It’s Christmas?
“I was a rabbit in the headlights at that point,” says Paul, remembering the 1984 recording of the classic festive perennial.
“I’d had one successful album and there I was going into record with artists who had years behind them.
“It was a bit like ‘point me in that direction and I’ll do what you want’.
“Now when you look back on it, it’s such a monumental thing and the credit still has to go to Bob (Geldof) and Midge (Ure) for organising something like that.
“It got so much bigger than their initial plan and they just had to learn how to run with it. It was an incredible learning curve!”
Fans of Paul are in for the treat over the next few weeks as the singer makes two visits to the area with a solo show at Wrexham’s William Aston Hall on Tuesday, December 6, before a return trip with his seven-piece Americana group Los Pacaminos, who play at Frodsham Forest Hills Hotel on Saturday, December 17 .
While many know Paul as the smooth singer of such ’80s staples as Wherever I Lay My Hat and Everything Must Change, he also leads a double life as the guitarist in Los Pacaminos who have toured the globe for the last two decades.
“It’s a real shot in the arm for me and it meant I could get excited about my music again,” says Paul.
“I first heard Ry Cooder’s hybrid version of Tex-Mex, and I escaped into a world of life down by the border, hot weather and good food.
“We started back in ’92 and it was too much fun to stop. I love the lift you get when playing. Right from the start I picked the right people and we all love doing it.”
Released in 1983, Paul’s debut album No Parlez, became the first of his three number one albums and turned him into a household name.
Every Time You Go Away topped the pop charts in the US and Paul would perform the song during the London segment of the Live Aid concert.
He continued to have a successful career with highlights including singing the Crowded House track Don't Dream It's Over at the Nelson Mandela 70th birthday tribute in 1988 and the popular duet, Senza una donna (Without a Woman), with Italian blues singer Zucchero in 1991.
In 1992 he sang Radio Ga Ga with the surviving members of Queen at The Freddie Mercury tribute concert soon after Freddie had died.
Since the mid-90s, Los Pacaminos have taken up much of his time, but this year saw the release of Good Thing – a collection of soul covers that sees Paul return to his blue eyed soul roots.
“It came out in April and I don’t even bother looking at sales any more because it will never be what it was like in the ’80s,” he laughs.
“It went down really well and I was surprised because I thought people might think I was being a bit safe.
“I tried a similar thing before, but it worked out very clinical and clean. Tthe record company were trying to get me to pick very well known songs which wasn’t what I wanted to do.
“I’m a record buff. I just wanted to play old stuff all the time and have fun.”
Having fun seems to be Paul’s main objective these days with appearances on TV reality shows like Splash and Celebrity Masterchef under his belt and the occasional Eighties revival tour alongside the likes of Nik Kershaw, Cutting Crew and Go West.
“I love live shows and always have,” he says. “There’s a good side and a bad side to it though. Since record sales have gone down the pan it’s the only real way to earn money.
“It’s my good fortune because I like playing live, but the other side of the coin is that it doesn’t get any easier as you get older.”
Paul turned 60 in January this year and the landmark has given him some time to reflect on what has been a tough year for music lovers with the deaths of so many well loved artists.
“I basically chose to ignore my 6oth because I was so busy and I’ve decided to celebrate my 61st instead if I can get through the year without dying like so many other musicians this year,” he says with a grim chuckle.
“Bowie’s death really got to me and Prince too. I’d forgotten what an incredible artist Prince was.
“Out of all the artists he borrowed from like James Brown and Sly Stone, I think he was actually better than all of them.
“Not only did he have those influences but he also had showmanship. He was unbelievable on stage.
“There was possibly no-one to beat him for that ability to go on stage and just tear it apart.
“Because he was so small and impish, his balance was incredible and to dance like that in high heels as well! He could get up and jam with anyone and blow them all away.”
While the days of selling millions of albums are gone for Paul and most of his contemporaries, the chance to still play live and release songs which he has chosen is still something he clearly relishes.
“I had 15 good years,” he adds. “There’s musicians like Elton John who have had 40 years’ success and then there’s other artists who only ever have one hit so I’m overjoyed to be somewhere in the middle!”
Paul Young plays Wrexham’s William Aston Hall on Tuesday, December 6. Doors 7pm. Tickets cost £25-£27.50. Call 0844 888 9911 or go to www.glundwr.ac.uk
Los Pacaminos play at Frodsham Forest Hills Hotel on Saturday, December 17. Doors 7pm. Tickets cost £17.50. Go to www.seetickets.com for more information.
See full story in the Chester Leader