Paul Melvyn Carrack (born 22 April 1951) is an English singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist who has recorded as both a solo artist and as a member of several popular bands. The BBC dubbed Carrack "The Man with the Golden Voice", while Record Collector remarked: "If vocal talent equalled financial success, Paul Carrack would be a bigger name than legends such as Phil Collins or Elton John."
Carrack rose to prominence in the mid-1970s as the frontman and principal songwriter of Ace, and gained further recognition for his work as a solo artist and for his tenures as a member of Roxy Music, Squeeze and Roger Waters' backing band, The Bleeding Heart Band, intermittently handling lead vocals on Squeeze and Waters recordings. From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, he enjoyed considerable success as the co-frontman (with Paul Young) and a songwriter for Mike + The Mechanics; following Young's death in 2000, Carrack served as the band's sole lead vocalist until his departure in 2004. He maintains an active solo career to the present day.
Carrack sang some of his affiliated bands' best-known hits, including Ace's "How Long?"; Squeeze's "Tempted"; and Mike + The Mechanics' "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)", "The Living Years" and "Over My Shoulder". He also performed lead vocals on tracks from the Roger Waters albums Radio K.A.O.S. and The Wall – Live in Berlin, and achieved a major solo hit with "Don't Shed a Tear". Carrack's songs have been recorded by artists such as the Eagles, Diana Ross, Tom Jones, Michael McDonald and Jools Holland, and he has served as a session and/or touring musician for the likes of Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, B.B. King, The Pretenders and The Smiths.
1970s: Warm Dust, Ace and Roxy Music
Carrack's recording career began with the jazz-rock band Warm Dust, who released three albums of original material between 1970 and 1972. Carrack was the keyboard player for the band, occasionally playing other instruments, with Les Walker as the lead vocalist.
After Warm Dust broke up, Carrack and Warm Dust bassist Terry "Tex" Comer helped to found the pub rock band Ace. Carrack both wrote and was vocalist on the band's debut single "How Long?" which was a 1975 hit in both UK and US. No further Ace recordings enjoyed the same level of popularity, however.
In 1977 Ace disbanded, and Carrack began working as a backing musician for Frankie Miller. Subsequently, he was a key supporting musician for Roxy Music, playing keyboards on their final three studio albums.
1980s: working solo and as a session musician
Carrack issued his first solo album, 1980's Nightbird. It was not a commercial success.
In 1981, Glenn Tilbrook recruited Carrack to join Squeeze as a replacement for long-time keyboardist Jools Holland. This new Squeeze line-up achieved international success with the album East Side Story, with Carrack as vocalist on the song "Tempted", their biggest US hit at the time. However, by 1982, Carrack had left the band and was replaced by keyboardist Don Snow.
Beginning in late 1981, Carrack joined up with Nick Lowe in a band that featured Lowe, Carrack, Martin Belmont on guitar, James Eller on bass and Bobby Irwin on drums. This band, referred to as Noise to Go, existed to back both Carrack on his solo recordings, and Lowe on his, similar to the arrangement Lowe had with Dave Edmunds and Rockpile in the late 1970s. Noise to Go also backed Lowe's wife Carlene Carter on her 1981 album Blue Nun.
After Carrack's 1982 solo album Suburban Voodoo, Eller left Noise to Go, and Lowe took over bass duties within the band. The band was rechristened Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit, and recorded two albums from 1983 to 1985, with Lowe as lead vocalist. The band also backed John Hiatt on side two of Hiatt's 1983 album Riding with the King.
During this era, Carrack also worked as a session musician for The Smiths and The Pretenders.
Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit dissolved in 1985, and Carrack was contacted by Mike Rutherford (of Genesis) who asked him to join Rutherford's new side project, Mike + The Mechanics. Initially, Carrack and Paul Young were alternating lead vocalists for the band. Carrack sang lead on their 1985 hit "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)".
In 1986 Carrack became a member of Roger Waters' newly formed backing band, The Bleeding Heart Band, recording tracks for the soundtrack of the animated film When the Wind Blows. The following year, Waters (still accompanied by Carrack and the Bleeding Hearts) released a solo album, Radio K.A.O.S. and toured the US and Europe. Carrack often filled in as an unofficial support act on the tour, usually playing "Tempted" to warm up the crowd.
Building on the success of Mike + The Mechanics, Carrack was able to reestablish his solo career in 1987 with the hit album One Good Reason, and the accompanying hit single "Don't Shed a Tear", which reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. From this point forward, Carrack consistently maintained both a solo career and a career in Mike + The Mechanics. This band recorded and toured irregularly due to Rutherford's commitments with Genesis.
In 1989 Mike + The Mechanics had a UK number two and US number one hit with "The Living Years", on which Carrack again sang lead. Also in 1989 Carrack recorded "Romance", a duet with Terri Nunn from the Los Angeles-based synthpop band Berlin. The song appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Sing, starring Peter Dobson and Lorraine Bracco.
1990s: solo and collaborations
In the 1990s Carrack's solo career went into abeyance for a few years, although he maintained a career as a session musician. He also continued working with Mike + The Mechanics, who recorded throughout the decade. During this time Carrack played keyboards in the band and also began to co-compose, with Rutherford, some of the band's songs.
In 1990 Carrack rejoined Roger Waters for the ground-breaking live stage show of The Wall – Live in Berlin in front of a crowd of 250,000. He sang "Hey You" and was one of the performers on "The Tide Is Turning" with Waters, Joni Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams and Van Morrison.
In 1993 Carrack joined with bassist Tony Levin, drummer Steve Ferrone, guitarist Phil Palmer and keyboardist/producer Rupert Hine to form a band known as Spin 1ne 2wo. They released one album, a self-titled project, made up of classic rock covers including songs by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Blind Faith, Steely Dan and Bob Dylan. He dueted with Beth Nielsen Chapman on "In the Time It Takes".
Also in 1993 Squeeze had Carrack return for their album Some Fantastic Place and a subsequent tour. With Carrack on vocals, the band re-recorded their hit "Tempted" for the soundtrack to the movie Reality Bites (1994). Carrack once again left Squeeze, however, after about a year.
Following his second stint with Squeeze, Carrack joined forces with Timothy B. Schmit and Don Felder of the Eagles for an ambitious, but ultimately unrealised, recording project. Schmit and Felder soon reunited with the rest of the Eagles and their Hell Freezes Over album, bringing with them one of the songs Carrack had co-written, "Love Will Keep Us Alive." It was recorded by the Eagles and won an ASCAP award as being the most-played song in the US in 1995. The same year, Mike + the Mechanics scored yet another top 20 hit, "Over My Shoulder". It not only featured Carrack on lead vocals, but was the first Mechanics hit to be co-written by him.
In 1996, Carrack resumed his solo career with the album Blue Views.
Carrack maintains an active solo career, as well as his career as a session musician and songwriter, touring solo in 2002, mostly opening for bands such as Supertramp. He also served as the sole lead vocalist for Mike + The Mechanics following the death of Paul Young in 2000. In 2003 Carrack toured with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band performing his hit songs including "How Long?", "Tempted" and "The Living Years". In 2004, Carrack left the Mechanics following the release of Rewired, their only album with Carrack as sole lead vocalist. After a lull in Carrack's career, in 2007 the Eagles covered Carrack's "I Don't Want to Hear Anymore" on their long-awaited reunion album Long Road Out of Eden. The album went to number one in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries.
In September 2004 Carrack joined with other notable artists for "The Strat Pack" concert at Wembley, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster. Carrack delivered vocal performances on "How Long?", "All Along the Watchtower", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", and "I Can't Dance".
In May 2009 Carrack embarked on a tour of Germany, supported by Canadian artist Brendan Croskerry. In 2010, Carrack released the album A Different Hat, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, arranged by David Cullen. Two years later in 2012, Carrack returned with the soul-inspired album Good Feeling.
In 2012 Carrack was the subject of an hour-long BBC Four television documentary Paul Carrack: The Man with the Golden Voice.
In February 2013, Carrack helped to kick off Eric Clapton's 50-year anniversary tour, "Old Sock", celebrating the 50th year that Clapton had been a professional musician. Carrack sang lead vocals on "Tempted", "How Long", and closed the show with "High Time We Went".
He also in 2013, took part in the BBC Four programme Please Please me: Remaking a classic to celebrate 50 years since The Beatles debut album where he recorded his own version of "Misery".
In May 2015 Carrack helped Clapton celebrate his 70th birthday with a concert held at Madison Square Garden on 1 and 3 May along with the other members of Clapton's band. The birthday celebration continued later in May at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK.
Carrack's distinctive voice and keyboard skills have kept him in demand as a session musician on many projects. Some of his credits include:
- Synthesizer, Organ, and Piano on Roxy Music's albums Manifesto, Flesh + Blood, and Avalon
- Piano on The Pretenders album Learning to Crawl (1983)
- Keyboards on The Smiths' eponymous debut album, The Smiths (1984)
- Lead vocals on Roger Waters' Radio K.A.O.S. (1987); keyboards and vocals on its subsequent tour
- Organ on Elton John's Made in England (1995) and The Big Picture (1997)
- Organ and vocals on B.B. King's Deuces Wild (1997)
- Keyboards on Simply Red's Blue (1998)
- Touring with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band (2003)
In 1997 Carrack played organ for Elton John on the single "Something About the Way You Look Tonight". It was coupled with "Candle in the Wind 1997" on a double A-sided single, which set a new record for best selling single of all time.
Throughout his career, Carrack has released solo albums during his breaks from band duties and session work. His biggest solo hit, "Don't Shed a Tear," came after he signed as a solo artist to Chrysalis Records in 1987.
- 1980: Nightbird
- 1982: Suburban Voodoo – (US #78)
- 1987: One Good Reason – (US #67)
- 1989: Groove Approved – (US #120)
- 1996: Blue Views – (UK #55)
- 1997: Beautiful World – (UK #88)
- 2000: Satisfy My Soul – (UK #63)
- 2001: Groovin'
- 2002: Still Groovin – [Re-packaging of Groovin with extra tracks and bonus DVD]
- 2003: It Ain't Over – (UK #193)
- 2005: A Soulful Christmas – [Paul Carrack & The SWR Big Band]
- 2005: Winter Wonderland – [Paul Carrack & The SWR Big Band]
- 2007: Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
- 2008: I Know That Name – (UK #152)
- 2010: A Different Hat – (UK #178) – [Paul Carrack with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra]
- 2012: Good Feeling – (UK #46)
- 2013: Rain or Shine – (UK #80)
- 2016: Soul Shadows – (UK #25)
- "I Need You" (US #37, 1982)
- "When You Walk in the Room" (US #90/UK #48, 1987)
- "Don't Shed a Tear" (US #9/UK #60, 1987)
- "One Good Reason (US #28, 1988)
- "I Live by the Groove" (US #31, 1989)
- "Eyes of Blue" (UK #40, 1996)
- "How Long?" (UK #32, 1996)
- "Eyes of Blue" (Remix) (UK #45, 1996)
- "The Living Years" with The London Hospices Choir (2016)
- "How Long" (US #3/UK #20 1975)
Squeeze, Carrack lead vocal
- "Tempted" (US #49/UK #41, 1981)
Mike + The Mechanics, Carrack lead vocal
- "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)" (UK #21/US #6/AU #21, 1985)
- "The Living Years" (UK #2/US #1/AU #1, 1989)
- "A Time and Place" (UK #58, 1991)
- "Everybody Gets a Second Chance" (UK #56, 1991)
- "Over My Shoulder" (UK #12, 1995)
- "Another Cup of Coffee" (UK #51, 1995)
- "Silent Running" [re-release] (UK #61, 1996)
- "Now That You've Gone" (UK #35, 1999)
- "Whenever I Stop" (UK #73, 1999)