Paul Hardcastle on the life-changing accident that kick-started his music career

Virgin Radio

1 May 2024, 13:32

Paul Hardcastle, Steve Denyer at Virgin Radio studios

Credit: Virgin Radio

Composer Paul Hardcastle has revealed how a life-changing motorbike accident ended up kicking off his career in music. 

The producer is perhaps best known for his 1985 hit single 19, which went straight to the top of the charts. The anti-war track focused on the Vietnam war and featured samples from news reports and a documentary about the conflict. 

Speaking to Steve Denyer on My 80s Playlist, airing all this week on Virgin Radio 80s Plus, Paul dished on the major success of 19, and how he almost had an entirely different career before life intervened. 

When asked about what he wanted to do from an early age, Paul made the surprising admission that he wanted to be a motorbike racer, with that being his “ambition in life” before he was left hospitalised for nearly four months after a nasty accident. 

He said: “I came out, I had compound fractures on my femur, my tibia, and fibula. Half of it was my fault, because I was going too fast, but someone pulled out as well.”

On how that life-changing moment secured his love of music and his future career, adding: “I was in there for four months, I had nothing to do. I was just listening to the radio. 

“I had done music with my dad, when I was about eight years old, I went around Berlin. We lived everywhere, anywhere that he was getting gigs. I was sort of a novelty because I could play the drums and do a little bit of sort of singing and play a little bit of guitar.”

Paul then admitted to “wrangling his way” into a band, before branching out on his own, and in 1984, he released Rain Forest, which landed at number two on the dance chart. 

A year later, the songwriter released 19, which was not only a number one in the US, but also landed in the top 20 in the US. Elsewhere, He picked up the coveted Ivor Novello Award for best-selling single. 

Discussing the inspiration behind 19, Paul recalled: “[The sample] was a TV documentary called Vietnam Requiem. It was on for about an hour and a half. I just took the parts that I thought were interesting. There was 26 [year-old] soldiers in World War Two and in Vietnam, they were 19. That's a big gap. That's a very big gap, and so that was the start of it.”

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