About Paul

The 80s – think n’n’n’n’n’ nineteen (19), Rainforest and the synthesizer…

From his dance club hits of the mid-1980s through to his current popularity among adult contemporary jazz listeners, Hardcastle has maintained an intentionally low profile, while at the same time exhibiting a level of technical wizardry–both at the keyboard and at the studio console–that has produced numerous hits for himself and for others.

His love of sound equipment eventually led to a job as a stereo salesman. In 1980 Hardcastle acquired his first synthesizer. He quickly landed a spot as keyboard player for the band Direct Drive, effectively ending his career in sales. With Direct Drive, Hardcastle got his first taste of dance club success, scoring a handful of minor hits on the British underground dance scene Hardcastle joined forces with vocalist Derek Green to form the funk band First Light in 1982.

Signing with London Records, First Light quickly produced two hit singles. Both Explain The Reason and Wish You Were Here cracked the Top 20 on the U.K. dance charts. In spite of this success, Hardcastle grew frustrated with his lack of control over his projects. His solution to the control problem was to start his own label, appropriately named Total Control. His partner in this endeavor was the popular club DJ Steve Walsh.

With full power over his own product now in hand, Hardcastle continued to crank out dance hits in his native England, including the singles Guilty and You’re The One for Me. Two instrumentals released during this period under the Total Control banner, A.M. and Daybreak, also gained Hardcastle a following among the electro-funk crowd. The success of these minor hits paved the way for the release of Rainforest, the single that made Hardcastle a genuine force on the international dance music circuit. Initially recorded as the theme song for a television special about the British hip hop scene, Rainforest eventually rose as high as number 41 on the British pop charts. The song was released in the U.S. in early 1985 by Profile Records, and was soon a dance number 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, selling over half a million copies worldwide and also received 2 grammy nominations.

The success of Rainforest created a lot of demand for Hardcastle’s services as a remix producer and he mixed or produced tracks for, among others, the groups Third World and Pigbag.

He joined forces with then unknown Simon Fuller and within a couple of months had signed to Chrysalis and put out the recording that would make him a household name. It would also launch the entertainment company aptly named after his song (19 Entertainment Ltd), which went on to manage The Spice Girls amongst other artists.

After watching Vietnam Requiem, a television documentary about the Vietnam War, Hardcastle was deeply moved by the fact that the average age of a U.S. soldier in that conflict was 19, compared to 26 during World War II. The program inspired him to create his biggest hit, 19, which made use of samples from the documentary’s soundtrack, though well-doctored with all manner of electronic effects and scratch techniques. 19 rocketed to number one on the British charts, and also reached the top spot in 13 different countries selling 4 million copies.

Despite the subject of the song, Hardcastle insisted that his motives in making it were not political. Rather than railing against the war, he maintained that he was merely trying to point out the tragic situation of the young men who fought it. The video for 19 saw substantial airtime on MTV. Hardcastle received the Ivor novello prize for international hit of the year.

On the heels of 19, He released three more singles, Just for Money, featuring the voices of acting superstars Sir Laurence Olivier and Bob Hoskins; Don’t Waste My Time and The Wizard Theme to Top of the Pops, all reached the UK top 20. All four singles were included on Hardcastle’s album Paul Hardcastle, released on Chrysalis in November of 1985.

During the second half of the 1980s, Hardcastle concentrated his efforts on behind-the-scenes studio work on other musicians’ projects. He produced records for Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Phil Lynot and worked on remixes for a number of artists, including Barry White, D-Train, Five Star, Sinitta, Johnny Logan, Third World, The Belle Stars, Luther Vandros, Change, Hiroshima, amongst others.

The 90s – the journey from Dance Club maestro to soulful jazz master…

Hardcastle also remained active as a composer, writing original scores for several films and television projects, including a new theme song for the British TV series Top of the Pops and Spiceworld the movie.

In the 1990s Hardcastle reinvented himself musically and took another stab at forming his own label, Fast Forward Records, on which he released the single Swing under the name the Def Boys. That record eventually reached the Billboard Top five, and was a major hit in Europe.

The first step in this new career phase came in 1990, with the release of an album on Motown by his new group Kiss the Sky. Next, Hardcastle collaborated with his old cohort Helen Rogers and with saxophonist Gary Barnacle, who had recorded with the likes of Tina Turner, Elvis Costello, and Phil Collins, to form The Jazzmasters. The trio released the album Jazzmasters on the independent JVC label in 1993, and it quickly gained substantial airplay on both contemporary jazz and R&B radio stations. The video for one of the album’s songs, Sound of Summer, also saw much exposure on VH-1. Jazzmasters eventually spent more than a year hovering near the top of the Contemporary Jazz Albums charts.

With the release of a solo effort, Hardcastle, in 1994, the artist cemented his position as a major force in urban contemporary jazz, with his unique hybrid of light jazz and soulful R&B. Like Jazzmasters, Hardcastle spent weeks among the top sellers in its genre.

Hardcastle continued to capitalize on his renewed stardom with follow-up albums in the mid-1990s, Jazzmasters II and Hardcastle 2, as well as ongoing projects with Kiss The Sky. With three separate outlets he was able to suit his varying creative moods– Jazzmasters for contemporary jazz with an R&B groove, Hardcastle for his slightly more experimental work, and Kiss the Sky for the rougher, more urban end of his output.

Since 1993 Hardcastle has topped the Billboard Nac chart 8 times, and has sold in excess of 3 million Albums in that genre, in total his record sales are close to 12 million records worldwide. In 1999 he was voted Billboards British Best Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Year.

Yet another side of his career has been producing TV themes, including Top of the Pops, Holiday, Watchdog, Saturday Night Live, Supersense, The Clothes Show, The Football League, BBC Wildlife on One, ITVs Giants.

The 000s

Hardcastle’s jazz career has gone from strength-to-strength throughout this recent decade building on his success specifically on the US jazz scene.

However, he kept his career three-dimensional by teaming up once again with Simon Fuller in 2005 on a project for Lego Toys in which he composed the music for the Bionicle European ad campaign.

His roller-coaster jazz success has seen him in the number 1 spot in the Smooth Jazz and Billboard charts on a regular basis throughout the past 5 years with his most recent achievement being voted the Dec 2008 Billboard Nac Artist of The Year.

In 2006 Paul was offered the job of radio presenter for SJN (Smooth Jazz Network), along with his constant production of smooth, soulful and funky jazz, his weekly show is syndicated across the USA.

His new album is out this September 28th 2009.

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