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Paul was born in Luton, England. He has an older brother Mark and a younger sister Joanne. After school, he went to work at the Vauxhall Motors factory and in his spare time played in several bands as bass guitarist. The first group for which he became lead singer was Kat Kool & The Kool Kats. In the 1970s he joined the Streetband, who had one Top 40 hit in the UK with the humorous track "Toast", reaching No. 18 in 1978.
In December of 1979 the Streetband broke up, and Young formed the Q-Tips, who established their name by playing live but had no hits in the UK, although their single "Letter Song" did enjoy minor success in mainland Europe.
The Q-Tips went their separate ways in 1982, and Young was signed by CBS Records as a solo performer. His first two singles, "Iron Out The Rough Spots" and "Love Of The Common People" had no success, but the third, a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" was No. 1 in the UK singles chart for three weeks in the summer of 1983, and the first of fourteen British Top 40 singles.
Similar success followed all over Europe. In the UK, follow-up single "Come Back And Stay" reached No. 4, and a re-release of "Love Of The Common People" made it to No. 2, while the album No Parlez was certified platinum in various countries.
Young's style at the time was a warm, approachable white soul, though he sometimes received playful criticism for his fashion decisions! However, his choice of an Anthony Price silk suit for the cover of No Parlez was impractical for stage, where an energetic show dictated more robust clothing.
1984 was a difficult year for Young, as his first heavy promotional and live concert tour of America affected his vocal cords to the extent that he couldn't sing at all for most of the year. He recovered, however, to famously perform the opening line to the Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and his second album, The Secret Of Association, secured his future success in America, Japan and Australia. He continues to have occasional voice and throat difficulties.
Young's biggest worldwide hit followed in 1985 with a version of Daryl Hall's "Everytime You Go Away".
He continued to have a successful career, with some highlights such as singing the Crowded House track "Don't Dream It's Over" at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute in 1988, producing a popular duet Senza Una Donna with Italian singer Zucchero in 1991, and singing "Radio Ga Ga" with Queen in 1992 at the tribute concert to the recently deceased Freddie Mercury. In 1991 he recorded a duet with Irish group Clannad for the Blake Edwards film Switch, it was a cover of the Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides Now".
Los Pacaminos at the 2006 Wickham Festival
Young has released fewer solo albums since he was freed from his contract with CBS/Sony Records in 1993. He reformed the Q-Tips for a short series of concerts that year, but now divides his time between family, the informal Tex-Mex group Los Pacaminos, and performing live during Eighties revival tours in the UK (in 2001 and 2003).
In September 2006 he appeared in the BBC1 show Celebrity Masterchef and won his show, allowing him a place in the semi-final.
A swing styled album was released in Germany on November 6th 2006, titled Rock Swings, containing such diverse tracks as Eminem 'Lose yourself', Soft Cell 'Tainted Love', David Bowie 'The Jean Genie', Metallica 'Enter Sandman' and Elvis Presley 'In the Ghetto', all recorded with a big band sound. A UK release is rumoured for 2007.