Paul Hardcastle (born 10 December 1957, London, England is an English composer and musician, specialising in the synthesizer.
In the early 1980s, Hardcastle played the keyboards on several singles on the Oval record label by the dance music groups Direct Drive and First Light, before going solo.
He achieved some acclaim for his early singles, notably in 1984, the electro-funk/freestyle/instrumental track, “Rain Forest”, which along with the track, “Sound Chaser” hit number two on the dance chart.“Rain Forest” also hit number five on the soul chart and number fifty-seven on the Hot 100. In 1985, he came to greater prominence with the international hit “19”, a song about America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the soldiers who served, using sampled dialogue from an American television documentary about the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by veterans. Mike Oldfield sued Hardcastle over the similarities between this track and his song “Tubular Bells.” On some releases of 19, Mike Oldfield is credited.
Hardcastle enjoyed several further hits in the UK, including “Don’t Waste My Time” (with vocals by Carol Kenyon) (UK No. 8) and “The Wizard”, a UK No. 15 hit that became the theme tune for BBC Television’s music chart show Top of the Pops from April 1986 until September 1991. He also had a hit with “Just For Money”, which reached No. 19 in the UK and featured Bob Hoskins and Laurence Olivier. Earlier, he had cut a cover version of D-Train’s most influential hit “You’re the One For Me”, segued with his own compositions “Daybreak” and “A.M.” Hardcastle also wrote the theme tune for Saturday Live, a popular entertainment show which ran from 1985-1987.
He also made the hit single “The Voyager”, which was used for the BBC One programme Holiday. Paul now acknowledges he was behind the “N-N-Nineteen Not Out” track with Rory Bremner.
After 1986, Hardcastle started to specialise in television soundtracks and remixed work, for artists as such as Five Star, Barry White, Third World, Sinitta, Johnny Logan, Hiroshima and Ian Dury.
In 1988, Hardcastle released the concept album, No Winners, which focuses on the potential negative effects of the Cold War arms race. In 2000, he released Hardcastle III, which included a remake of “Rainforest” and a hit single, “Desire.”
Hardcastle has also recorded several synth jazz albums, alternating releases under the artist names Kiss The Sky (with Jaki Graham), The Jazzmasters, and Paul Hardcastle. Working regularly with vocalists such as Helen Rogers, Becki Biggins, and Margo LeDuc, Hardcastle has recruited several saxophonists including Gary Barnacle (on the first album), Snake Davis, Phil Todd, Tony Woods, and Rock Hendricks. All these albums have been played on smooth jazz radio in the United States, where some of the most played tracks include “Northern Lights”, “Lost in Space”, “Desire”, “Shine”, and “Serene”. He won the Billboard Smooth Jazz Artist Of The Year award in 2008.
2010’s The Jazzmasters VI track “Touch and Go”, featuring his son Paul Jr. on saxophone, reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Jazz songs chart, becoming his tenth number one on the Smooth Jazz chart in total.
His album, Hardcastle VI, released in September 2011, features yet another remake of “Rainforest”—this time mixed with R&B legend Marvin Gaye’s signature song, “What’s Going On.”