Paul Carrack – One Hit Wonder – Not really!

By Russ:

This singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist super session man hails from the U.K.  One of his most popular hits came out in 1974. When you hear it today you might ask yourself, who did that?

I’m talking about the song “How Long” by a group called Ace

The term One-Hit is really a misnomer for this artist, as you will find reading further…

Paul Melvyn Carrack

  • born 22 April 1951 in Sheffield, England
  • has recorded as both a solo artist and as a member of several popular bands. The BBC dubbed Carrack “The Man with the Golden Voice”, while Record Collector magazine remarked:
“If vocal talent equaled financial success, Paul Carrack would be a bigger name than legends such as Phil Collins or Elton John.”
Paul Carrack
Origin Chipping Barnet, England

Blue-eyed soul, pop rock, soft rock


Vocals, keyboards, guitar

Years active 1969–present

Vertigo, Chrysalis, Columbia, Ark 21, Compass

Associated acts

Eagles, Warm Dust, Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Mike + The Mechanics, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Eric Clapton


Carrack rose to prominence in the mid-1970s as the frontman and principal songwriter of Ace, but gained further recognition for his work as a solo artist and for his tenures as a member of Roxy Music,  Squeeze and Roger Waters‘ backing band, The Bleeding Heart Band, intermittently handling lead vocals on Squeeze and Waters recordings.

From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, Paul has also enjoyed considerable success as the songwriter and co-lead singer (along with Paul Young)  for the group Mike + The Mechanics.


1974 / Paul Carrack with Ace / “How Long” / written by Carrack / (covered by at least 22 other artists) /

[From a musical point of view, one of the things that really makes this piece  indelible as an “ear worm”  is the intro and repeating bass pedal riff on Bb  -rs]
1981 / Paul Carrack with Squeeze / “Tempted” / written by Squeeze guitarist Chris Difford
1985 / Paul Carrack with Mike + The Mechanics’  / “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)” / written by Mike Rutherford & BA Robertson
Jamming Silent Running / Great Living- Room- Concert @ Martin’s home,  Live recorded Germany, April 2012 (great sax solos by Flavius Theodosiu)
1995 /Paul Carrack with Mike and The Mechanics / Over My Shoulder/ written by Carrack and Mike Rutherford / covered by 6  other artists


2003 / It Ain’t Over / from his 9th studio album “It Ain’t Over” / written by Carrack / described by AllMusic as “smart, sophisticated, sassy, classy pop music”


1982 / So Right So Wrong / covered by Linda Rondstadt


1992 / Always Better With You / covered by Gregston & Collister


1994 / Love Will Keep Us Alive / co-written with Jim Capaldi and Peter Vale (Eagles)


1995 / Eyes Of Blue / covered by 2 other artists


1995 / Oh Oh Oh My My My / covered by Tari Lacourt


1999 / Battlefield / covered by 8 other artists


2003 / Happy To See You Again /


2005 / Ain’t No Love / covered by Sam Moore w Steve Winwood

Carrack also performed lead vocals on tracks from the Roger Waters albums Radio K.A.O.S. andThe Wall – Live in Berlin, and achieved a major solo hit with “Don’t Shed a Tear“.  His songs have been recorded by artists such as Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Diana Ross, Tom Jones, Michael McDonald and Jools Holland, and he has served as a session and/or touring musician for Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, B.B. King, The Pretenders, The Smiths and Madness.

Carrack’s recording career began with the jazz-rock band Warm Dust, who released three albums of original material between 1970 and 1972. Carrack was the keyboard player for the band, occasionally playing other instruments, with Les Walker as the lead vocalist.
After Warm Dust broke up, Carrack and Warm Dust bassist Terry “Tex” Comer helped to found the pub rock band Ace.
British rock group, Ace, London 14th January 1976. Left to right: guitarist Phil Harris, drummer Fran Byrne, bassist Tex Comer, singer and keyboard player Paul Carrack, and guitarist Alan King. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
The band’s debut single, “How Long“, was written and sung by Carrack and was a 1975 hit in both the UK and the United States. The track was Ace’s only hit record and in 1977 the group disbanded.
Carrack then worked as a backing musician for Frankie Miller and as a keyboardist for Roxy Music.

1980s: working solo and as a session musician

Carrack issued his first solo album, 1980’s Nightbird. It was not a commercial success. In 1981, Glenn Tilbrook recruited Carrack to join Squeeze as a replacement for long-time keyboardist Jools Holland.

English rock band Squeeze in London, 1981. From left to right, they are John Bentley, Chris Difford, Gilson Lavis, Glenn Tilbrook and Paul Carrack. (Photo by Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns/Getty Images)

This new Squeeze line-up achieved international success with the album East Side Story, with Carrack as vocalist on the song “Tempted“, their biggest US hit at the time.

However, by 1982, Carrack had left the band and was replaced by keyboardist Don Snow.

Beginning in late 1981, Carrack joined Nick Lowe in a band that featured Lowe, Carrack, Martin Belmont on guitar, James Eller on bass and Bobby Irwin on drums. This band, referred to as Noise to Go, existed to back both Carrack on his solo recordings, and Lowe on his projects, similar to the arrangement Lowe had with Dave Edmunds and Rockpile in the late 1970s. 

After Carrack’s 1982 solo album Suburban Voodoo, he worked as a session musician for The Smiths and The Pretenders.

In 1985, Carrack was contacted by Mike Rutherford (of Genesis) who asked him to join Rutherford’s new side project, Mike + The Mechanics.

Initially, Carrack and Paul Young were alternating lead vocalists for the band. Carrack sang lead on their 1985 hit “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)“.


Following Paul Young’s unfortunate death in 2000, Carrack served as the Mechanic’s sole lead vocalist until his departure in 2004. He maintains an active solo career to the present day.

Silent Running led to further mainstream popularity and acclaim, with Phil Collins describing Carrack as an “incredible voice” who “could sing the telephone directory”.

In 1986, Carrack became a member of Roger Waters’ newly formed backing band, The Bleeding Heart Band, recording tracks for the soundtrack of the animated film When the Wind Blows.  The following year, Waters (still accompanied by Carrack and the Bleeding Hearts) released a solo album, Radio K.A.O.S. and toured the US and Europe.  Carrack often filled in as an unofficial support act on the tour, usually playing “Tempted” to warm up the crowd.


Building on the success of Mike + The Mechanics, Carrack was able to reestablish his solo career in 1987 with the hit album One Good Reason,

and the accompanying hit single “Don’t Shed a Tear”, which reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.

From this point forward, Carrack consistently maintained both a solo career and a career in Mike + The Mechanics. This band recorded and toured irregularly due to Rutherford’s commitments with Genesis.

In 1989, Mike + The Mechanics had a UK number two and US number one hit with “The Living Years”, on which Carrack again sang lead. Also in 1989, Carrack recorded “Romance”, a duet with Terri Nunn from the Los Angeles-based synthpop band Berlin. The song appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Sing, starring Peter Dobson and Lorraine Bracco.

1990s: solo and collaborationS

In the 1990s Carrack’s solo career went into abeyance for a few years, although he maintained a career as a session musician. He also continued working with Mike + The Mechanics, who recorded throughout the decade. During this time Carrack played keyboards in the band and also began to co-compose, with Rutherford, some of the band’s songs.

In 1990, Carrack rejoined Roger Waters for the ground-breaking live stage show of The Wall . He sang “Hey You

He was also one of the performers on “The Tide Is Turning” with Waters, Joni Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams and Van Morrison.

In 1991, Carrack sang the fourth verse on (born 1947) Paul Young’s cover version of the Crowded House * hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over“, released on Young’s compilation album From Time to TimeThe Singles Collection

In 1993, Carrack joined with bassist Tony Levin, drummer Steve Ferrone, guitarist Phil Palmer and keyboardist/producer Rupert Hine to form a band known as Spin 1ne 2wo. They released one album, a self-titled project, made up of classic rock covers including songs by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Blind Faith, Steely Dan and Bob Dylan. He dueted with Beth Nielsen Chapman on “In the Time It Takes”.

Also in 1993, Squeeze had Carrack return for their album Some Fantastic Place and a subsequent tour. With Carrack on vocals, the band re-recorded their hit “Tempted” for the soundtrack to the movie Reality Bites (1994). Carrack once again left Squeeze, however, after about a year.

Following his second stint with Squeeze, Carrack joined forces with Timothy B. Schmit and Don Felder of the Eagles for an ambitious, but ultimately unrealised, recording project. Schmit and Felder soon reunited with the rest of the Eagles and their Hell Freezes Over album, bringing with them one of the songs Carrack had co-written, “Love Will Keep Us Alive.” It was recorded by the Eagles and won an ASCAP award as being the most-played song in the US in 1995. The same year, Mike + the Mechanics scored yet another top 20 hit, “Over My Shoulder“. It not only featured Carrack on lead vocals, but was the first Mechanics hit to be co-written by him.

In 1996, Carrack resumed his solo career with the album Blue Views. Carrack also contributed Hammond organ parts to four songs on Ezio’s 2000 album Higher.


Carrack maintains an active solo career, as well as his career as a session musician and songwriter, touring solo in 2002, mostly opening for bands such as Supertramp.  In 2003 Carrack toured with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band performing his hit songs including “How Long?”, “Tempted” and “The Living Years”. In 2004, Carrack left the Mechanics following the release of Rewired, their only album with Carrack as sole lead vocalist. After a lull in Carrack’s career, in 2007 the Eagles covered Carrack’s “I Don’t Want to Hear Anymore” on their long-awaited reunion album Long Road Out of Eden. The album went to number one in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries.

In September 2004 Carrack joined with other notable artists for “The Strat Pack” concert at Wembley, celebrating the 50th anniversary of theFender Stratocaster. Carrack delivered vocal performances on “How Long?”, “All Along the Watchtower”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and “I Can’t Dance”.

In May 2009 Carrack embarked on a tour of Germany, supported by Canadian artist Brendan Croskerry. In 2010, Carrack released the album A Different Hat, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, arranged by David Cullen. Two years later in 2012, Carrack returned with the soul-inspired album Good Feeling.

In 2012 Carrack was the subject of an hour-long BBC Four television documentary Paul Carrack: The Man with the Golden Voice. In the same year, Carrack was one of the recipients of the BASCA Gold Badge Award in recognition of his unique contribution to music.

In February 2013, Carrack helped to kick off Eric Clapton’s 50-year anniversary tour, “Old Sock”, celebrating the 50th year that Clapton had been a professional musician. Carrack sang lead vocals on “Tempted”, “How Long”, and closed the show with “High Time We Went”.

He also in 2013, took part in the BBC Four programme Please Please Me: Remaking a Classic to celebrate 50 years since The Beatles debut album where he recorded his own version of “Misery”.

2014 / Paul still rocking out / with “Slow Hand” Eric / Live in Switzerland

In May 2015 Carrack helped Clapton celebrate his 70th birthday with a concert held at Madison Square Garden on 1 and 3 May along with the other members of Clapton’s band. The birthday celebration continued later in May at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK.

In 2019, Carrack played Hammond organ and sang on Clapton’s Live in Concert 2019 world tour, playing their first-ever concert in Dresden, Germany as part of theDresden Music Festival.

2019 / Paul singing Raining In My Heart / Buddy Holly song

Session work

Carrack’s distinctive voice and keyboard skills have kept him in demand as a session musician on many projects. Some of his credits include:

  • Synthesizer, Organ, and Piano on Roxy Music’s albums Manifesto, Flesh + Blood, and Avalon
  • Piano on The Pretenders album Learning to Crawl (1983)
  • Keyboards on The Smiths’ eponymous debut album, The Smiths (1984)
  • Lead vocals on Roger Waters’ Radio K.A.O.S. (1987); keyboards and vocals on its subsequent tour
  • Organ on Elton John’s Made in England (1995) and The Big Picture (1997)
  • Organ and vocals on B.B. King’s Deuces Wild (1997)
  • Keyboards on Simply Red’s Blue (1998)
  • Touring with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band (2003)

In 1997 Carrack played organ for Elton John on the single “Something About the Way You Look Tonight”. It was coupled with “Candle in the Wind 1997” on a double A-sided single, which set a new record for best selling single of all time.

Paul Carrack Discography

  • Nightbird (1980)
  • Suburban Voodoo (1982)
  • One Good Reason (1987)
  • Groove Approved (1989)
  • Blue Views (1995)
  • Beautiful World (1997)
  • Satisfy My Soul (2000)
  • Groovin’ (2001)
  • It Ain’t Over (2003)
  • Winter Wonderland (a.k.a. A Soulful Christmas) (2005)
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue (2007)
  • I Know That Name (2008)
  • A Different Hat (2010)
  • Good Feeling (2012)
  • Rain or Shine (2013)
  • Soul Shadows (2016)
  • These Days (2018)

* As a Big Aside…

2015 Crowded House singer Neil Finn in Aukland with strings, singing Don’t Dream It’s Over


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