A Tribute to Singer-Songwriter Paul Weston

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Many years ago I connected with Paul Weston on MySpace, and since then we developed a wonderful friendship, and I also interviewed him in TSM back in August 2011. It was in this month last year when Paul passed away, and it’s still hard to believe it’s already been a year since he went home. Although, he isn’t with us physically, his spirit sure lives on.

Paul was truly such a beautiful and genuine soul from the inside to out, and he will always hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to actually meet him in person, although we spoke about meeting one day – even did have a plan to meet when I was in Wales that fell through. So, we will now just meet on the other side in the spiritual realm.

Thank you so much Paul for bringing inspiration and joy to our daily lives through your poetry, music, posts and just all who you were as a person that touched our lives.

~ Jessica Gilbert

[Vince Jenkins] I met Paul in the Spring of 1981 when I was in a band (Total Gold) playing clubs and pubs. Soon, my creative juices got the better of me, and I left to join a new band, All ‘n All, with Mike Taki on drums and vocals and Simon (Slim) Davies on guitar.

The band was put together by Simon Payne (a rather large man who has since appeared on TV programs such as “Fat Club” and seemed to be the media spokesman for all overweight people in Wales.) Simon found  Mike Taki stuck in a rut and decided the  way to get him out of it, was to start a band. He got Mikes best friend Slim, an ace guitarist, to join but they needed a bass player. Simon approached me, and I was happy to join. Simon then appointed himself as our manager!

We spent months rehearsing, during which, I was very critical of my abilities as a lead vocalist, but never lost faith in the quality of the songs we came up with. I felt that if we brought another vocalist/guitarist into the band, it would take a load off me and Mike. We placed an Ad. in the Wanted section of the South Wales Echo, and only one person replied, Paul Weston.

We met Paul at Mikes house, and he told us he had only played in folk clubs, and had, up to this point, only written acoustic, guitar based songs. Well, we were not bothered about what he’d written, we had plenty of songs. We just wanted someone to sing and play a bit of guitar. So we asked him to sing one of his songs just to check him out, and WOW! we were blown away at how great he and the song was. I can still remember it now, ‘ I will Read the Newspapers’ was its’ defiant title. His lyrics turned the old saying, ‘don’t believe what you read in the newspapers’, upside down!  We then played him a tape of our songs and it was his turn to be blown away. So that was it, he was in!

Mike took his phone number and wrote it in his diary, which he promptly lost! That, coupled with a poor performance at our first gig, prompted me to leave them. I was gutted. Its a funny old World sometimes…..

I stepped back into Total Gold and soon after, Slim bumped into Paul and “Milan” was formed. Both our bands often played down Cardiff Bay at the Dowlais pub, or the Casablanca Club. They would come to see us before their set and we would go see them after ours. Great nights. Months later, I left again to start a band doing original music, ‘Quaking House’. In ‘Milan’, Paul was doing well with a great local following and he was definitely the star of the show, attracting the attention of Danny Chang, a red hot guitar player and local music entrepreneur.

[Nigel Voyle] I met Paul in Cardiff in 1983, when he was fronting Milan and I was  singing with a band called Singapore. Myself, Danny Chang and Mike Price (our manager) created PVC Productions at that time and when Paul split from Milan, Danny and I approached him with the proposal of a production deal, as we felt his songs had great potential.

[Vince Jenkins] Quaking House were folding due to our lead singer Brenda giving birth imminently! I had no plans, and at our penultimate gig, Paul turned up and invited me to play bass in his new ‘Paul Weston Band’. I accepted, but thought ‘yeah, this’ll take ages to rehearse and organise.’ I was so, so wrong! Danny organised a showcase gig for us at the Thekla, a ship/club in Bristol docks, for six weeks later! EMI were rumoured to be there as well as various A&R men. I couldn’t believe we would be ready and with an hour’s worth of Paul’s music to learn too. But we were! As well as Danny, Paul and me, there was Nick Mercott on drums and Danielle Nichols on backing vocals. We rehearsed every afternoon, right up to the gig and were a pretty hot band on the night. Phew! We pulled it off! Great gig!

After that whirlwind start, we did some local gigs and a radio show (I recorded it on cassette) and TV performances (yes I’ve still got the video). Paul and I also went out as a duo called ‘Fire Station’ doing our songs and some covers.

[Nigel Voyle] Throughout 1985 we took Paul to various studios in Cardiff and Bristol to build his musical portfolio for approaching record companies to negotiate a recording contract. We didn’t get him the recording contract, but we did introduce him to Olav Wyper, who became his publisher.

[Vince Jenkins] The Paul Weston Band sort of ended almost as fast as it was formed as the band’s driving force, Danny had his own career and commitments to attend to, but I suppose that’s how the pop music industry is, it’s of the moment, and if the band doesn’t happen it’s time to move on.

[Paul Weston’s website] Paul signed to Olav Wyper publishing in 1985. Olav was the man who helped launched the careers of artists such as David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Eurythmics, and Montserrat Cabelle amongst many others.

Olav introduced Paul to another of his publishing artistes, Nigel Jenkins. Nigel had worked with Gerry Rafferty on his album “City to City” and played electric guitar on the famous song “Baker Street”. Paul and Nigel worked together on a three song project.

[Al Steele] I spoke to Nigel Jenkins himself, and he only remembers recording one song, ‘War Of Love’ – a tour de force of amazing Nigel Jenkins rock guitars, slamming production, and some great Paul Weston lyrics. There are some differing opinions on whose song it was, but when I spoke to Nigel he was sure it was all Paul.

Around 1988, I began a writing partnership with Nigel Voyle and before long, was introduced to both Danielle Nicholls and Paul Weston. Nigel and I had already recorded a song of Paul’s at his instigation called ‘I Won’t Let You Go’. He always saw Nigel as the singer for that song. Paul later recorded a duet version with Danielle at Albany Studios with Lawson Dando (our keyboard player in our very short-lived band ‘SEX!’).

Paul had a great new song called ‘More Than This’, which we demoed in my bedroom studio. Around the same time Nigel and I produced ‘How Can I Tell You’ at the Music Factory (owned by Dai Shell of Sassafras). Danielle then recorded her version of ‘More Than This’ with Paul, Nigel and myself at Loco Studios. It was a real blast working with him at that time, because he was a great generator of enthusiasm… as it turns out he always would be.

Through Nigel, Danielle, Lawson and Paul, I got to know Dave Daggers, Body-painter and Art Photographer. For a hazy, red-wine-filled era of my life, I moved my studio to Dave’s house, and it was here that Paul and I recorded ‘Real Love’, and a new version of ‘More Than This, incorporating some of the best of all the versions plus some new twists.  I remember Paul coming around one morning, and seeing all the empty bottles of wine, and asking ‘Did you have a party last night? I had to reply, ‘No, it was only us!’

There seems an obvious through-line musically, from ‘More Than This’ to ‘Real Love’, and then later on to ‘You Can Be Anyone’. This was Paul rocking out and loving it!

I guess, it was immediately after that, Paul began a series of recordings with Prog Rock producer Rob Reid. Rob is the creator of the highly successful Prog rock group ‘Magenta’, but at this time he had just set up his own studio after being Danny Chang’s chief engineer. There were four songs in these sessions. ‘Electric Rain’ – perhaps in the aftermath of Chernobyl, ‘When The Oil Runs Out’ (a reworking from the PVC sessions), the haunting ‘Anywhere Land’, and a cheeky love song called ‘She’s Mine’. Rob’s production still sounds vibrant and fresh today, such is his talent.

It would be several years before I caught up with Paul again, and by this time I had opened a commercial recording studio with keyboard guru Nigel Hart, called Shabbey Road Studios. Paul turned up one day with a record plugger, a concert promoter, and a group called Shades. They were five teenage girls, of different races, and Paul had written a song for them called ‘We Are The Future’.

[Paul Weston’s website] In 2001 Paul wrote both songs for the Music Wales Rising Stars single release “We Are The Future”, working with Al Steele and Louise Ryan (vocal coach and arranger for Charlotte Church). “We Are The Future” has been recorded in five different languages and is included on an African compilation album in the Kiswahili language.

[Al Steele] Paul had the song, the plugger and the promoter had the expertise, I had a studio, and would I like to get involved? Well the song was great, the other guys seemed to know what they were doing and the idea was neat. Teenagers singing about how adults had messed up, and shouting ‘We Are The Future’.

We started recording the song –  and it was a big production – full band, live strings, and a kids choir recorded live in a theatre. Then it started to become evident, that the guys I thought knew what they were doing, had not done costings for anything! In an effort to save the project we accepted an offer from a gifted vocalist to contribute the B-side. The singer was Katy Bolan, and the song she wanted to sing, was a new one of Paul’s called ‘Shine’.

That song was the beginning of a new direction for Paul’s writing. We both had a love of Mahler’s enormous, all-consuming productions, and I had long wanted to record at that sort of scale.

The other two guys were ditched, and Paul had by now enlisted the help of Louise Ryan. For a few years that was a great team. We would put a demo down in an evening, I would go off and write the arrangement, Paul and I would do the sessions, and then Louise would oversee the final vocal parts.

Katy Bolan recorded two more songs with the team; the quirky pop tune, ‘This Time’ and one of Paul’s most beautiful ballads, ”Say You Will Always Love Me.’

[Paul Weston’s website] In 2002 Paul’s song “I Look Through The Sky To Heaven” was recorded by USA Disney recording artist Kelly-Lynn.

[Al Steele] We did a great couple of songs with young gospel singer, Kelly-Lynn, who flew in from America to record ‘Jesus Will Be There For You’, and the amazing ‘I Look Through The Sky To Heaven’. There was also a song by Paul’s old mate Nigel Jenkins from the Olav Wyper days called ‘The Devil You Know’.

There was always a pop side to the compositions, and the group Bac 2 Bac recorded two great songs of Paul’s; ‘Love Will Find A Way’, and ‘Fools Gold’., the former with guitar by Nigel Jenkins.

[Paul Weston’s website] In 2005 Paul’s song”Shine” was performed by award winning Welsh soprano Holly Holyoake at the World Championship of Performing Arts in Hollywood, USA. Holly won a gold medal and two bronze awards for her performances.

In 2006 Holly performed Paul’s song “Shine” on the Aled Jones UK Concert tour. Highlights of 2007 include Paul working with one of his favorite artists, David Habbin (singer with “Amici Forever”, the award winning Popera band with over two million album sales world wide) and recording a new “We Are The Future” song with Swedish family group BBx8. Paul also linked up with Nick Jarl (accomplished writer and producer for Westlife) who produced the WATF Sweden song.

[Al Steele] Around this time, Paul and Louise fell out over something trivial… if I remember right, it was around the time he moved out of Wales and went back to live in Somerset. In any case, they never worked together again.

Paul was  becoming increasingly concerned with world poverty, equality, and the war dominated news. He formed the ‘We Are The Future’ foundation, and opened it up worldwide. The song was recorded in 25 countries and in as many languages.

We also recorded ‘One Beautiful Dream World’, and this song caught the imagination of many people around the world. The ‘One Beautiful Dream World’ foundation was also set up, but Paul seemed to have less time for writing.

The economic crash happened, and budgets for the big productions dried up. We had the songs lined up, but only demos were made of ‘You Can Be Anyone’, You’re My Reason Why’, and Paul’s swansong ‘One More Last Goodbye’. Florida born, and now Nashville rising star, Sarah Spencer, gives a perfect heart rending vocal performance on this song.

Somewhere in the middle of the Paul Weston, Louise Ryan and Al Steele partnership arrived an amazing song called ‘My Desire’. It was sort of inspired by the opera ‘Carmen’  We did the demo in an evening… I wrote a musical link section in the middle, and started muttering… it needs more, it is too big a song to be just this! I put forward the idea of a long orchestral introduction, and Paul said, ‘well I have some tunes that never made it to the song..’

Over the next few months I wrote the opening 7 minutes of orchestral music, and then linked it into the song. When we started the recording, it was quite a daunting task, but as all the pieces finally began to fit into place, it started to take on the shape of something really new… a mixture of classical rock and pop, and ending with the most expansive and gorgeous of all of Paul’s songs. Sarah Spencer delivered a truly stunning vocal performance.

I get the same feeling listening to this song, as I did when I was standing next to Paul watching Mahler’s 8th Symphony. Simply otherworldly. The final pieces of the song were eventually recorded late in 2014. A spine-tingling Spanish tenor sung by Maximiliano Sposito is counterpointed by Laura Curtis’soaring soprano.’

He never got to hear the finished piece, but it is surely a fitting epitaph for Paul. Exuberant, lyrical, poignant, angry and sometimes very dark, but then Paul was the complete artiste. His music reflected his many sides.

Olia Tira recorded a Russian version for Russia’s Eurovision Song Contest entry in 2008. Her version was entitled “Ljubov kotoroj bolse net – My Desire.

Paul felt he was stuck in a rut back in Somerset, so in 2013 Dave Daggers and myself drove down to move him back to Cardiff. He wanted to be closer to his kids, and get back into flow of things. He stayed with Dave for the last year of his life. On the afternoon of the day he died, he had a visit from his sister and his mother. How weird is that?

[Nigel voyle] I knew Paul right from the start of his musical journey, and we remained close friends right up to his untimely death.

[Vince Jenkins] Paul was a warm, enjoyable, fun-to-be-with person with a burning creative passion for music…. so thanks Paul, for a lot of very enjoyable and exciting times together!

[David Habbin] I’ll remember Paul as generous, positive and passionate about his music. A truly gentle and kind man.

[Al Steele] None of us can work with Paul anymore, but we can continue to perform and play his music, and through his songs and poetry, he will live forever. Isn’t that what music is all about?… and music was what Paul was all about.

[Lorraine Simmonds, “Lorley”] My residing memory of my brother is a shock of  platinum blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a cheeky smile. From the age of seven, when he was given his first guitar he began writing lyrics and music almost immediately. Paul took a keen interest in world affairs, and in the environment, subjects that would become an inspiration for his work.

He studied Law at Nottingham Polytechnic and Social Work at Cardiff University. Eventually, he settled in Cardiff where he made many friendships, mostly through writing and performing music. The only thing to rival his passion for music were his three wonderful children – Rhiannon, Joseph and Rachael of whom he wrote, “Thank You For Keeping Me Young” and “You Are My Reason Why.”

The Songs of Paul Weston are dedicated to them.

Let’s listen, enjoy and share his amazing music and help keep his legacy alive.

Here is Paul Weston’s interview that was published back in August 2011.

The CD, The Songs of Paul Weston 1957 – 2014 is now available for purchase. If anybody would like copies of Paul’s CD, they are £15 each, which includes postage and packaging and can be obtained via PayPal from Lorraine Simmonds. Her Paypal email address is: simmondsfamily.burtle@btinternet.com (remember to include your address for postage). She can also send you a request for payment if that is easier.

A friend of Paul’s, Adam Greenery, is currently trying to release four of Paul’s songs to aid relief in Nepal. If you can help with this cause, please get in touch with Adam. Good luck and thanks to all who can help in advance.

Paul Weston tribute album cover

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