Heck was raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey (his childhood photo appears on the No Alternative CD insert). Heck was named HS All-American in Boys Lacrosse in his senior year at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. In 1985, he attended Brown University, majoring in Art History and Economics. In 1991, Heck channeled his passion for music into a fight to raise awareness and funds to combat the AIDS epidemic. In this endeavor, Heck pursued the idea of an AIDS benefit alternative rock compilation. He partnered with fellow Brown alumni Chris Mundy (a Rolling Stone Senior Writer) and Jessica Kowal (a freelance writer for Newsday) to produce the album No Alternative, the third album in the Red Hot Organization's (RHO) AIDS Benefit Music series.
The Red Hot Organization
No Alternative, released on Arista Records in October 1993 featured original tracks and covers from bands that went on to define the alternative rock scene of the 90s, including: Goo Goo Dolls, Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, The Verlaines, Buffalo Tom, Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLachlan, Patti Smith, Bob Mould, American Music Club, Nirvana, Urge Overkill, Soul Asylum, Soundgarden, Straightjacket Fits, The Breeders Beastie Boys and Uncle Tupelo. This album received an A+ review in Entertainment Weekly. A No Alternative MTV special and VHS featured a mix of live performances by Smashing Pumpkins and Goo Goo Dolls, music videos, short films by directors like Hal Hartley, Tamra Davis, Michael Stipe and Jim McKay and Matt Mahurin as well as information about AIDS for an audience otherwise untargeted by other AIDS organizations. No Alternative raised over $1 million dollars and the proceeds were donated to AIDS relief organizations across the US.
Following the commercial and critical success of No Alternative. Heck has been involved producing nearly a dozen Red Hot albums that have raised over $10 million dollars for AIDS relief, including: Red Hot + Bothered, Offbeat, Red Hot + RIO, Red Hot + Rhapsody, Red Hot + Indigo, Red Hot + RIOT, Red Hot + RIO2, Red Hot + FELA and Red Hot + Bach.
Heck co-produced Dark Was The Night (2009), a Red Hot album that raised over $1 million dollars and featured artists like The National, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, My Morning Jacket, Jose Gonzalez and many others.
Music and Film Credits
Heck served as Original Score Composer and Music Supervisor on the film "East of Havana"(2007) a film about 3 young rap artists in Cuba and their struggle for survival and self-expression. The film was produced by Charlize Theron and D+D Films and released by SonyBMG Films.
Heck was a part of the Red Hot team that provided Music Supervsion for "How To Survive A Plague", (2012) an Academy Award nominated documentary film directed by David France about the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and the efforts of ACT UP and TAG. Heck introduced the idea of using the music of Arthur Russell in the film. Russell was an avant garde gay songwriter and performer who was living in downtown Manhattan during the time frame covered by the film who died of AIDS-related causes in 1992.
Heck was produced compilation albums that have helped introduce or reintroduce cult artists from around the world to new audiences, like:
- Shuggie Otis "Inspiration Information" (Luaka Bop, 2002)
- Fela Kuti "The Underground Spiritual Game Mix" (with Chief Xcel of Blackalicous - Quannum Projects, 2004)
- Tim Maia "Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential soul of Tim Maia" (Luaka Bop, 2011)
- "In The Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2" a project featuring African artists reinterpreting the songs of U2 (Shout! Factory Records, 2007)
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- "Eddie Murphy sings on the Shrek soundtrack". EW.com. 2001-03-08. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Roots, Blige, MMW Highlight Red Hot Ellington Tribute". MTV News. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "'Red Hot and Riot' CD Honors Fela Kuti". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- O'Connell, Sean J. (2011-06-28). "Don't Call It a Comeback: Red Hot + Rio 2's Paul Heck". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Show Me Love: An Interview with Red Hot Organization Founder John Carlin". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- Life+Times. "Behind Red + Fela | Life+Times". lifeandtimes.com. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "All Star Fela Kuti Tribute In The Works". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Show Me Love: An Interview with Red Hot Organization Founder John Carlin". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
- "No Alternative Turns 20". Stereogum. 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- Koehler, Robert (2006-07-21). "Review: ‘East of Havana’". Variety. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "A Chat with Paul Heck of Red Hot Cuba". The New Cuba. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Brassland | Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers". brassland.org. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Film review: 'How to Survive a Plague'". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
- "Shuggie Otis on Returning to 'Inspiration Information,' Re-emerging With 'Wings of Love'". MTV News. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "The resurrection of Shuggie / Soul rocker Otis back after decades of obscurity, and critics say he's a master". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Fela Kuti: The Underground Spiritual Game Album Review | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Gravadora americana lança coletânea dedicada a Tim Maia - Correio de Uberlândia Online" (in Portuguese). 2012-09-25. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "African artists assemble to celebrate U2 on compilation". pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- MastaP (2009-06-11). "le petit nègre". Le petit nègre. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 | Village Voice". Retrieved 2017-07-04.