Paul Heaton

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Paul Heaton
Heaton in 2009
Background information
Birth name Paul David Heaton
Born (1962-05-09) 9 May 1962 (age 56)
Bromborough, Cheshire, UK
Genres Indie pop, pop, alternative rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, harmonica, guitar
Years active 1982–present
Labels Go! Discs, Universal, Ark 21, Mercury, Sony BMG [W14]
Associated acts The Housemartins, Norman Cook, The Beautiful South, Biscuit Boy
Website Official site

Paul David Heaton (born 9 May 1962) is an English singer-songwriter.

Heaton was a member of The Housemartins, who had success with the singles "Happy Hour" and the number-one "Caravan of Love" in 1986 before disbanding in 1988. He then formed The Beautiful South, whose debut single and album was released in 1989 to commercial success and continued with a series of hits throughout the 1990s, including the number-one single "A Little Time". They disbanded in 2007. He subsequently pursued a solo career, which produced three albums, and in 2014 he released What Have We Become?, a well-received collaboration with former Beautiful South vocalist Jacqui Abbott. In 2015 he released another album with her, Wisdom, Laughter and Lines, and in 2017 a third one Crooked Calypso.

The British newspaper The Guardian has described Heaton as "one of our finest songwriters: his music reveals an exuberant ear for melody, his lyrics a keen eye and a brilliant wit".[1] AllMusic said: "The warm, mellifluous voice of Paul Heaton often masks the jagged satirical content of his lyrics."[2]

Early life[edit]

Paul David Heaton was born in Bromborough, Cheshire in 9 May 1962 to parents Doris and Horace Heaton.[3] Heaton has two older brothers Mark Heaton and Adrian Heaton. At the age of four his family relocated to Sheffield.[4] While living in Sheffield, Heaton became interested in football, and while his elder brothers elected to watch Sheffield Wednesday, Heaton chose to support Sheffield United. After moving to Sheffield, Heaton's father took a job in management and Heaton described his childhood as being "fairly middle class, although you wouldn't know it given the schools I went to and the friends I had".[5]

After a childhood in Sheffield, Heaton moved to Chipstead, Surrey during his adolescent years, an early life Heaton described as "bred in Sheffield, fed in Surrey".[4] Whilst in Surrey he, with his brother Adrian, formed their first band "Tools Down" with friends John Box and Stuart Mair. After leaving Surrey, Heaton spent time hitch-hiking around Europe before moving to Hull in 1983, where he formed The Housemartins. Heaton also lived in Leeds for a year.[6]

Throughout his childhood, Heaton's main interest was football, and he regularly attended Sheffield United games. Heaton played over 700 competitive games at junior and amateur level, often insisting on driving back from gigs on a Friday or Saturday night to attend his Saturday and Sunday matches.

The Housemartins[edit]

Heaton, then billing himself as P.d. Heaton, formed The Housemartins in the early 1980s. This band featured Stan Cullimore on guitar, Ted Key on bass and Hugh Whitaker on drums. Shortly afterwards Key left the band and was replaced with Norman Cook. The Housemartins released a number of singles and two studio albums, London 0 Hull 4 and The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death. Their most popular hit was an a cappella cover version of "Caravan of Love" (originally by Isley-Jasper-Isley), which was their only number 1 hit in the UK. For the second album Hugh Whitaker was replaced with Dave Hemingway on drums. Shortly afterwards the Housemartins split up.

The Housemartins' lyrics were a mixture of Marxist politics and Christianity (the inner sleeve of London 0 Hull 4 contained the message "Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope").

The Beautiful South[edit]

Heaton with The Beautiful South, 2006

In 1988, Heaton formed The Beautiful South from the ashes of The Housemartins. It had Dave Rotheray on lead guitar, former Housemartins roadie Sean Welch on bass, David Stead on drums and Housemartins former drummer Dave Hemingway, now in the role of joint lead singer and frontman. The writing partnership of Heaton and Rotheray proved very successful. The Beautiful South released two top ten singles, "Song for Whoever" and "You Keep It All In"; the latter featured Irish singer Briana Corrigan on vocals. In 1989, the band released an album, Welcome to the Beautiful South. The band's biggest success to date is the single "A Little Time", released in 1990; it reached number 1 on the UK chart.

The band went on to release eight more albums, including two (1996's Blue Is the Colour and 1998's Quench) that reached the number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, as well as releasing the best-of compilation Carry on up the Charts, which also reached number 1 and achieved platinum status, before the band split up in January 2007.

After a band meeting on 30 January 2007, they decided to split. They released a statement on 31 January, in which their reasons for splitting were "musical similarities". "The band would like to thank everyone for their 19 wonderful years in music," the statement also said.[7] On an interview with BBC Breakfast in July 2008, Heaton clarified this statement by stating The Beautiful South had made similar-sounding albums for the past ten years.

Solo albums[edit]

In 2001, Heaton released a solo album using the persona of Biscuit Boy (a.k.a. Crackerman). This double-barrelled name, including the parenthetical a.k.a., was the official project name on all early releases.

The solo album, called Fat Chance, was not a commercial success, peaking at number 95 for one week on the UK Albums Chart. Also, "Mitch", the lone single credited to Biscuit Boy (a.k.a. Crackerman), reached only number 75 in the UK Singles Chart.

In an attempt to re-launch the album, Mercury Records re-issued Fat Chance in 2002. The album featured new artwork, and was now credited to Paul Heaton. However, this record charted even lower in the album chart, hitting number 168. "The Perfect Couple", a single pulled from this re-release also did poorly, peaking at number 102 UK. Heaton subsequently rejoined The Beautiful South from 2002 to 2007.

With the 2007 dissolution of The Beautiful South, Heaton has formed a new band "The Sound of Paul Heaton".

Heaton's second solo album The Cross Eyed Rambler was released on 7 July 2008, and was preceded by the single "Mermaids and Slaves" on 30 June, and he toured in support of it throughout July. The album charted at number 43.

Heaton released his third solo album, Acid Country in September 2010.[8]

The 8th[edit]

In 2011, the Manchester International Festival endorsed the writing by Heaton of an anthology of songs based on the 7 deadly sins, to be called The 8th. The song was broken down into a section for each sin, which was to be performed by a different artist. The singers for the original piece were: Wayne Gidden, Aaron Wright, King Creosote, Simon Aldred, Cherry Ghost, Jacqui Abbott, Yvonne Shelton, and Mike Greaves. The individual sections were incorporated with a narration written by Che Walker.[8]

The 8th debuted in July 2011 at the Festival Pavilion Theatre in Manchester's Albert Square.

After the debut, six further performances of The 8th were announced for the Summer of 2012.[9]

Along with the live shows in July 2012 a CD album of The 8th was released on a CD/DVD format including tracks by artists Simon Aldred, Aaron Wright, Mike Greaves, Yvonne Shelton, Jacqui Abbott and Heaton himself.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performing live in Warrington England in June 2017

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott[edit]

He reunited with former Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbott in 2013 to record new material. The result, What Have We Become?, was released on 19 May 2014. The album reached number 3 in the UK Albums Chart. The album contained 12 new songs (the deluxe version an additional 4 new songs). The majority of the songs were written by Heaton and his current songwriting partner Jonny Lexus apart from "D.I.Y", "When it Was Ours" and "You're Gonna Miss Me" (written by Heaton only).

On working with Abbott once again, Heaton said: "Working with Jacqui again was like going into your garage and discovering a beautiful, covered up Rolls Royce that hadn't been started in years. Jacqui is one of the best singers I've worked with and is also part of my past. It was only a matter of time before I asked her."[10]

On Sunday 29 June they appeared live on BBC Two at Glastonbury Festival performing acoustic versions of second single "Moulding Of A Fool" and a cover version of Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream". During the summer of 2014 Paul & Jacqui performed at a series of festivals across the UK and Ireland including Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival, V Festival and Festival No.6.

On 11 November 2014, BBC Radio 2 broadcast a world premiere of "Real Hope", featuring The Grimethorpe Colliery Band, from the deluxe edition of What Have We Become?.

On 30 October 2015, the Heaton/Abbott collaboration achieved their 2nd UK Top 10 album with their new offering Wisdom, Laughter and Lines[11]

On 21 July 2017, Heaton and Abbott released their 3rd album Crooked Calypso. It reached number 2 in the UK charts.

Personal life[edit]

Heaton lives in Manchester with his wife and three children. [12]

Heaton has on occasions referred to the Beautiful South as having a heavy drinking culture. Many songs by The Beautiful South, such as "Woman in the Wall", "Liars' Bar", "I May Be Ugly", "The Slide", "Look What I Found in My Beer" and "Old Red Eyes Is Back", have referred to alcoholism or drink-fuelled violence.[13] In December 2011, Heaton purchased the lease of The Kings Arms public house, Bloom Street in Salford, Greater Manchester.[14] He sold the pub in December 2015.

Other appearances[edit]

During the 1990s, Heaton regularly appeared on Football Italia, Channel 4's coverage of Italian Serie A football as a pre-match guest and was frequently introduced by host James Richardson as an 'Italian football expert'.

Heaton appeared on BBC One talking head programme Why We Love the Royle Family, along with Noel Gallagher, in his capacity as a fan of the television sitcom The Royle Family.

In May 2012, Heaton set off on his 50/50 cycle tour of British and Irish pubs, promoting his latest album, British pubs and cycling.[15][16] He covered 2500 miles [50 miles for each year he'd been on the planet] , stopping at pubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.


The Housemartins[edit]

The Beautiful South[edit]

Paul Heaton (solo artist)[edit]



  • "Mitch" (2001) as Biscuit Boy (a.k.a. Crackerman)
  • "The Perfect Couple" (2002)
  • "I Do" (2008)
  • "Little Red Rooster" (2008)
  • "Mermaids and Slaves" (2008)
  • "The Ladder's Bottom Rung" (2010)
  • "The Old Radio" (2010)
  • "Lust" (2012), taken from Paul Heaton Presents the 8th
  • "DIY" (2014) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "Moulding of a Fool" (2014) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "When It Was Ours" (2014) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "Real Hope" (2014) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "The Austerity of Love" (2015) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "The Queen of Soho" (2015) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "(Man Is) The Biggest Bitch of All" (2015) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "I Gotta Praise" (2017) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "The Fat Man" (2017) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "She Got the Garden" (2017) with Jacqui Abbott
  • "He Wants To" (2017) with Jacqui Abbott

Compilation albums[edit]


  1. ^ Barton, Laura (6 June 2012). "Happy hour again: Paul Heaton tours UK pubs on his bike". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Sutton, Michael. "Artist Biography by Michael Sutton". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Barnett, Laura (2011-04-04). "Portrait of the artist: Paul Heaton, musician". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  4. ^ a b Pattenden, Mike (1999). Last orders at the Liar's Bar: the official story of the Beautiful South. Gollancz. p. 42. ISBN 0-575-06739-X. 
  5. ^ Pattenden (1999). p.43
  6. ^ Pattenden (1999). p.185
  7. ^ Pop group Beautiful South split from BBC News website, retrieved 31 January 2007
  8. ^ a b "bio". Paul Heaton Music. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "Los Campesinos! Announce Tour | News". Pitchfork. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  10. ^ McMullen, Marion (16 May 2014). "Beautiful times are here again". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott score a second with Wisdom, Laughter and Lines – Official Charts
  12. ^ "Paul Heaton on the secret of his songwriting genius: booze!". Retrieved 26 October 2017. 
  13. ^ Pattenden (1999). p.183
  14. ^ "Beautiful South singer Heaton becomes a pub landlord", BBC News, 30 November 2011
  15. ^ Beautiful South's Paul Heaton plans pub gig tour by bike – Daily Telegraph
  16. ^ The Beautiful South's Paul Heaton to cycle 720 miles on UK pub tour – NME