Paul Heaton (Housemartins, Beautiful South)

English singer/songwriter Paul David Heaton was born 9 May 1962 in Bromborough, Cheshire in 9 May 1962 to parents Doris and Horace Heaton. Heaton has two older brothers Mark Heaton and Adrian Heaton. At the age of four his family relocated to Sheffield. While living in Sheffield, Heaton became interested in football, and while his elder brothers elected to watch Sheffield Wednesday, Heaton chose to support Sheffield United. After moving to Sheffield, Heaton’s father took a job in management and Heaton described his childhood as being “fairly middle class, although you wouldn’t know it given the schools I went to and the friends I had”.

After a childhood in Sheffield, Heaton moved to Chipstead, Surrey during his adolescent years, an early life Heaton described as “bred in Sheffield, fed in Surrey”. Whilst in Surrey he, with his brother Adrian, formed their first band “Tools Down” with friends John Box and Stuart Mair. After leaving Surrey, Heaton spent time hitch-hiking around Europe before moving to Hull in 1983, where he formed The Housemartins. Heaton also lived in Leeds for a year. Throughout his childhood, Heaton’s main interest was football, and he regularly attended Sheffield United games. Heaton played over 700 competitive games at junior and amateur level, often insisting on driving back from gigs on a Friday or Saturday night to attend his Saturday and Sunday matches.

Heaton was a member of The Housemartins, who had success with the singles “Happy Hour” and the number-one “Caravan of Love” in 1986. The band were formed in 1983 by Paul Heaton (vocals) and Stan Cullimore (guitar), initially as a busking duo. Throughout his tenure with the band, Heaton billed himself as “P.d. Heaton”. Heaton and Cullimore recorded a demo tape with Ingo Dewsnap of Les Zeiga Fleurs which brought them to the attention of Go! Discs. They then expanded by recruiting Ted Key (bass), former guitarist with The Gargoyles, and Justin Patrick [drummer on loan from Udomsuksa!] who was then replaced by Chris Lang. Their first live performance as a band was at Hull University in October 1984.The band’s membership changed considerably over the years. Key left at the end of 1985 and was replaced by Norman Cook (the future Fatboy Slim). Drummer Chris Lang was replaced by Hugh Whitaker, former drummer with The Gargoyles, who in turn was replaced with Dave Hemingway. The band often referred to themselves as “the fourth best band in Hull”. The three bands that were “better” were Red Guitars, Everything but the Girl and The Gargoyles.

The a cappella style of “Caravan of Love” was not to the taste of all Housemartins’ fans, although a cappella material had always been part of the band’s repertoire. “Caravan of Love” was first performed by the band in their second Peel session in April 1986, prior to their initial chart success. At Peel’s suggestion, the band then recorded another session (under the name The Fish City Five), consisting entirely of a cappella performances, and on at least one occasion (at The Tower nightclub in Hull, the same concert at which they were filmed as the Housemartins for the BBC programme, Rock Around the Clock), played support act for their own performance under this alternative name. The “Caravan of Love” single featured four a cappella gospel songs on the B-side. The band split in 1988, but the members have remained friends and have worked on each other’s projects. Norman Cook has enjoyed significant success with Beats International and then as Fatboy Slim, while Heaton, Hemingway and roadie Sean Welch formed The Beautiful South.

before disbanding in 1988. He then formed The Beautiful South, whose debut single and album was released in 1989 to commercial success and continued with a series of hits throughout the 1990s, including the number-one single “A Little Time”. The Beautiful South was an English pop/rock group formed in 1988 by two former members of the Hull group the Housemartins—Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway—both of whom performed lead and backing vocals. Other members throughout the band’s tenure were former Housemartins roadie Sean Welch (bass), Dave Stead (drums) and Dave Rotheray (guitar). After the band’s first album (recorded as a quintet), they were joined by a succession of female vocalists, all of whom performed lead and backing vocals alongside Heaton and Hemingway – Briana Corrigan for albums two and three after appearing as a guest vocalist on one, followed by Jacqui Abbott for the fourth through seventh albums, and finally Alison Wheeler for the final three Beautiful South albums. The group broke up in January 2007, claiming the split was due to “musical similarities”, and having sold around 15 million records worldwide.

He subsequently pursued a solo career, which produced three albums, and in 2014 he released What Have We Become?, a well-received collaboration with former Beautiful South vocalist Jacqui Abbott. In 2015 he released another album with her, Wisdom, Laughter and Lines. The Guardian described Heaton as “one of our finest songwriters: his music reveals an exuberant ear for melody, his lyrics a keen eye and a brilliant wit”. AllMusic said: “The warm, mellifluous voice of Paul Heaton often masks the jagged satirical content of his lyrics.”

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