Paul Young, singer/percussionist for the British pop-rock band Mike + the Mechanics and former vocalist for the pop group Sad Café, died Saturday of an apparent heart attack in Cheshire, England. He was 53.
Young collapsed at home and was dead on arrival at Wythenshawe Hospital, according to a spokesman for Virgin Records UK. Last year, Mike + the Mechanics issued their sixth LP, M6 (which includes the single “Now That You’ve Gone”), on Virgin Records in the UK only. Young was planning to tour Europe with the band later this month but the tour has been canceled, according to John Webster of Virgin UK.
“We are all shocked and devastated by Paul’s death,” Mechanics leader and Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford said in a statement. “He had a fantastic voice, one of the best rock voices of his generation, and aside from his musical talent, he had such an infectious enthusiasm for the business. Paul loved performing. He was a complete natural. We all thought he’d still be singing in 50 years’ time. This is a terrible loss.”
Born on June 17, 1947, in Manchester, England, Young achieved his greatest success as a member of Mike + the Mechanics. They scored a #1 U.S. hit in 1988 with the title track to the top 20 The Living Years (RealAudio excerpt), which was also a big UK hit. The song was inspired by the death of Rutherford’s father.
Young had a number of UK chart successes in the ’70s and ’80s, with Sad Café. These included “Run Home Girl” (RealAudio excerpt), which also charted in the States, “Every Day Hurts,” “La Di Da” and “Strange Little Girl.”
He started in the music business by playing German clubs in the ’60s. In 1962 he formed his first band, Johnny Dark and the Midnights. After a stint in the beat group the Toggery Five, Young and bandmate Frank Renshaw continued on as the duo Young and Renshaw.
Young then formed Sad Café with guitarists Ian Wilson and Mike Hehir, saxophonist Lenni, keyboardist Vic Emerson, bassist John Stimpson and drummer David Irving. Sad Café issued their first LP, Fanx Ta Ra, in 1977 and achieved success with the follow-up, Misplaced Ideals, and its Young co-written hit “Run Home Girl.” Their next album, Facades, featured the UK top-five “Every Day Hurts.”
After a few more recordings, the band split in the ’80s.
Young joined Mike + the Mechanics in 1985, alongside bandmates Rutherford and former Ace and Squeeze singer/keyboardist Paul Carrack. Young and Carrack shared lead vocals.
The Mechanics’ eponymous debut that same year spawned the U.S. top-10 hit “Silent Running” and the top-5 Young-sung “All I Need Is a Miracle.”
After The Living Years, Mike + the Mechanics issued their third LP, Word of Mouth (1991). Beggar on a Beach of Gold (1995) featured tracks such as “Another Cup of Coffee,” “The Ghost of Sex and You” and the UK hit “Over My Shoulder.” Hits (UK only) followed a year later.
Young is survived by his wife, Pat; their three grown children, Lee, Jason and Ursula; and one grandchild, Tegan.