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Fact #162823


Short story:

Paul Hardcastle begins five weeks at No1 in the UK with 19, one of the first hit singles to make extensive use of computer sampling technology.

Full article:

Charlie Gillett (radio DJ/entrepreneur) : In 1981 Gordon and I were in the basement of my house, which is where our office was at the time, and somebody just came down the steps and put a cassette through the door and went away again. That was a group called Direct Drive, whose keyboard player turned out to be Paul Hardcastle. 11 records later, 19, which we published, sold nearly three million in the world, in 1985.

I'd bought a house in 1969 for so low a price that my mortgage was less than my paper bill, and I only have a paper a day That allowed me to do all these things getting paid incredibly little. £8 for doing my Record Mirror column and another £8 for doing Radio London, only earning £25 a week, or something insane, but with a very low mortgage and a very understanding wife, you can just get away with it. Then we had a couple of Top 10 things in the late '80s, one was Carey Johnson, and we put out something called The Jack That House Built by Jack 'n' Chill. And the most recent one was Touch And Go.
(Source : Charlie Gillett biography by Ian Anderson on http://www.soundoftheworld.com/)

Paul Hardcastle : I got my start in the music business because Charlie Gillett had faith in me. He gave me the money to buy an eight track and gave me a publishing deal which enabled me to do my first single in 1984, You're the One For Me, for Total Control records.

My first couple of records weren't huge hits, but then I was asked to do a soundtrack for a body-popping film, Zero One, and I came up with a track called Rainforest which got to No41 in September 1984, by the simple expedient of us personally taking it round all the record shops in a car. Now, 41 is a horrible place for a record to stop because you can't get on Top Of The Pops until you're in the Top 40, so that looked like the end of that.

But then it went on to sell 450,000 copies in America, where it actually knocked Madonna off the top of the dance charts. That's when things started moving, because I got signed to Chrysalis Records on the strength of doing so well in America.

Even so, when I told Chrysalis that my next idea was to do a song about the Vietnam War, they all thought I was mad, even Chris Wright, the owner. When I played it for them in the marketing meeting, the only guy who really liked it was the promotions guy, Ken Grunbaum. It was his faith that got the record some airplay.
(Source : interview with Johnny Black for Q magazine)

Ken Grunbaum (promotions manager, Chrysalis) : I was working for Chrysalis Records, and Simon Fuller ... wanted me to sit in on a meeting. Right at the end, Paul said : "Oh, did you see that documentary about Vietnam last week? I taped it and have been messing about with it." He played us a very rough version of 19. When I heard that "N-n-n-nineteen" hook, I had a "What the heck?" moment.
(Source : https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/sep/24/19-paul-hardcastle-ken-grunbaum)

Paul Hardcastle : Then, three weeks before the record came out, I got another ally at the record label. The A+R man, Simon Fuller, really got into it and he told me he was prepared to leave the company to become my manager. I said, "Manager? What does a manager do?" But we did the deal and it was the right decision.

Ken Grunbaum : These were the early days of spoken-word sampling: the general public had never heard anything like it. One of the first people to get behind 19 was Tony Blackburn, on his Radio London show. He played it and the public went mad for it. Not only did 19 sound unlike anything else on the radio, it also told a story. But, because it wasn't a performance song with a band standing there, it needed a video. So I edited one from the documentary.

Our legal department had a nightmare getting clearance for the samples; there were no precedents for something like this. We ended up having to pay Peter Thomas, the narrator, royalties. Paul was off doing more mixes of the song to keep the interest in it high, too – and the public wanted every version. It was amazing.
(Source : https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/sep/24/19-paul-hardcastle-ken-grunbaum)

Paul Hardcastle : We also had an immense stroke of luck in that Nineteen came out on the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam War. So when News At Ten was reporting on that, they tagged a bit on the end saying that a young record producer had just released a single about the war, and they played it on the tv. I was sitting at home with my dad, watching the tv and I was surprised but he was totally gobsmacked. We'd known that they might mention it, but we never expected to see it on the programme like that.

Two weeks after it came out, Nineteen went to No4, then it went to No1, and I'm still very proud that it was one of the hardest-hitting anti-war songs ever made.

Following up a huge record like Nineteen isn't easy, but if you look at my chart record, I didn't do badly. I had a Top Twenty hit with Just For Money, which featured the voices of Bob Hoskyns and Sir Lawrence Olivier, then I had Don't Waste My Time, which got to No8.

While I was performing that on Top Of the Pops, the producer, Michael Hurll, came up and asked if I'd be interested in re-vamping the theme tune. I said yes, and he said, 'Well, could I have it by next week?' Having a deadline like that concentrates the mind wonderfully, and I did it on my new Synclavier in one day.

When it came out, it was called The Wizard, and we expected it to do well, but there had been a rash of middle of the road hits by soap opera stars, so Radio One had decided not to play any tv-theme related tracks. When the mid-week chart placings came out, it was only at No73. To give him his fair credit, Michael Hurll got stuck in. He said, 'I'm not going to let Radio One get away with this!' and on the next Top Of The Pops he had me on playing it, even though it wasn't in the Top 40, which was the first time that had ever happened. He also played it during every link, and had people in the studio wearing Wizard t-shirts. It subsequently went into the charts at No15.

Something nobody knew at the time was that, when Rory Bremner did that send-up version, N-N-N-Nineteen Not Out, that was me doing the music, once more against my record company's wishes.

Having those hits also gave me the opportunity to work as a re-mixer and producer with people like Ian Dury, Barry White, Phil Lynott and Luther Vandross.

In some ways, though, Rainforest was more significant for my subsequent career than Nineteen. For a while I enjoyed being famous, but it quickly became a pain. I had two years where I couldn't go out without people coming up to me in restaurants and sticking their elbow in my meals and demanding autographs. I was done for speeding and it turned up in The Sun as 'Paul Nicked For Doing N-N-N-Ninety'. I really came to hate all that constant attention, especially once I had a wife and kids.

Having had success on the dance charts with Rainforest in America, that was the area I felt happiest in musically, and Nineteen was kind of a deviation from that path.

So when I started to get sick of not being able to go out to the pub or walk down the street, I decided to release dance-orientated material under different names. I was the Deff Boyz, who had a No6 hit in Germany with Swing. People didn't know who it was, and I liked that. I could earn money and still go out to the supermarket. I was LFO, Silent Underdog, Kiss The Sky and others, and then in the early 90s I became The Jazzmasters. That went to No1 on the New Adult Contemporary chart in America and I've since sold over 2m albums over there. It means I can go to America, do my PR bit for that market, and come home and just be normal Paul again.

The other thing, of course, is that when Nineteen was a hit, my A+R man at Chrysalis, Simon Fuller, became my manager. He founded a management company, also called Nineteen, and was able to put some of what he'd earned into developing the Spice Girls and, subsequently, S Club 7. We're still good friends, so I did the soundtrack for the Spice Girls movie and the S Club tv series. I've also done a stack of tv themes, for shows like The Holiday Programme, Wildlife On One, Supersense, Watchdog…

I'm living in Chigwell, Essex, now (Sept 00), and we've got three kids - Maxine (14) who you might have seen dancing on the S Club tv show, Paul (10) and Ritchie (3) and I've really no complaints, thank you very much.