Here’s one for you music trivia buffs: can you name a singer who performed lead vocals on hits with four different musical acts? If you read the title of this post, you can! Paul Carrack may not be a household name, but he achieved this amazing feat in the span of a decade and a half all while flying somewhat under the radar and gaining the respect of his peers for his outstanding musicianship.
As part of my effort this summer to fill in some of my many musical blind spots, I’ve been listening to songs I’d forgotten about over the years, or songs I knew only by title but not by artist. Part of this search exhumed the hit “How Long” by Ace, composed and sung by Paul Carrack – a great tune that’s still played from time to time on the radio. I knew nothing about the band, but after looking them up and digging around a bit, it didn’t take long to find a short interview with Carrack, the introduction of which contained a stunning revelation: that Carrack had not only sung the Ace hit but had also sung lead on Squeeze’s radio mainstay “Tempted,” the Mike + the Mechanics hits “Silent Running” and “The Living Years,” and a solo song I’d forgotten about (and that currently isn’t available on Spotify), “Don’t Shed a Tear.” That’s five hits with four different musical acts. Added to this impressive repertoire are stints with Roxy Music (he played keys on my favorite Roxy album, Manifesto), Clapton, Roger Waters, plus over fifteen solo albums, and you wind up with an amazing lifelong musical career that wasn’t consumed by the pitfalls of fame. If I had to write my own ticket, a life like Carrack’s would have to be in the running.
I’ve searched a bit online and paged through my Billboard book of hits, and as far as I can tell there aren’t any singers who have matched Carrack’s feat. I thought Steve Winwood, Paul Rodgers or Eric Clapton may have matched the achievement, but unless I’m missing something, none of them did despite reaching a level of fame that far exceeds Carrack’s.
Hits with four different acts. Add this little nugget to feed the souls of music nerds everywhere. All hail, Paul Carrack!