Paul was born on January 17, 1956 in Luton, England, as the younger brother of Mark, and the elder brother of his sister Joanne. After school, he went to work at the Vauxhall Motors factory, but in his spare time, would play in several bands as a bass guitarist. The first group for which he became lead singer was Kat Kool & The Kool Kats. In the 1970s he joined the Streetband, who had one Top 40 hit in the UK with the humorous track “Toast”, reaching No. 18 in 1978.
In December of 1979 the Streetband broke up, and Young formed the Q-Tips, who established their name by playing live, but never had any hits in the UK. In Europe, however, their single “Letter Song” enjoyed some minor success.
The Q-Tips went their separate ways in 1982, and Young was signed by CBS Records as a solo performer. His first two singles, “Iron Out The Rough Spots” and “Love Of The Common People” had no success, but the third, a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” was No. 1 in the UK singles chart for three weeks in the summer of 1983, and the first of fourteen British Top 40 singles.
Similar success followed all over Europe. In the UK, follow-up single “Come Back And Stay” reached No. 4, and a re-release of “Love Of The Common People” made it to No. 2, while the album No Parlez was certified platinum in various countries.
Young’s style, at the time, was a warm, approachable white soul, though he took playful criticism for his fashion decisions, which included chunky hand knitted sweaters and leather suits with matching ties – not so chic, even in 1983.
1984 was a difficult year for Young, as a serious throat condition affected his vocal cords to the extent that he couldn’t sing at all for most of the year. He partially recovered, however, and famously performed the opening line to the Band Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. Young’s voice was affected by his vocal fold nodules and the subsequent operation, leading to a very different sound in his comeback single “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down”. He continues to have voice and throat difficulties.
Young’s biggest worldwide hit followed in 1985 with a version of Daryl Hall’s “Everytime You Go Away”.
He continued to have a successful career, with some highlights such as singing the Crowded House track “Don’t Dream It’s Over” at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute in 1988, producing a popular duet Senza Una Donna with Italian singer Zucchero in 1991, and singing “Radio Ga Ga” within 1992 at the tribute concert to the recently-deceased .