What do music legends like Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Parliament Funkadelic, Joe Cocker and the Temptations have in common? The answer is simple: They’ve all relied on legendary tour and studio guitarist Paul Warren to do their guitar work. You’ve heard Paul on countless platinum and gold records. For almost 40 years he’s been the ‘secret weapon’ behind big artists’ success. Now it’s your turn to discover Paul – and see why Grammy-winning musicians choose Paul as their hired gun.
Paul started playing guitar at the age of twelve. By the end of that year, he already had formed his own blues band and won first place at the talent contest at school. He started playing parties, fundraisers, school dances and community events at thirteen. At fifteen, he was playing five nights a week in a top 40 band – while all the other members were well into their 20’s. After that, he formed an original band called Justice, played with some of the best known local musicians and opened for some big name acts: Rod Stewart and the Faces, Traffic, Jethro Tull, Ted Nugent and the band that was to become Grand Funk Railroad.
Heard About Him Through the Grapevine
At 17 years old Bob Babbitt of Motowns “Funk Brothers” saw Paul playing and asked him to put a band together – at Motown. Although the songs were a bit too “rock and roll” for Berry Gordy, the tape circulated through Motown and Paul’s playing drew the interest of Norman Whitfield. He called him for his first professional session. That’s when the doors flew open. Paul went on to play with some of the biggest names in Motown, including…
1972, album – All Directions – Guitar
1973, album – Law of the land – Guitar
1973, album – Masterpiece – Guitar
1990, album – Anthology (box set) – Guitar (And numerous other Greatest Hits)
Most notably, at the age of 17 – He recorded Papa was a Rolling Stone. It went to number One and won five Grammy awards the following year. It was the first hit Paul ever played on. All of these albums were recorded at Motown studios.
Pacific Gas and Electric
1972, Single – Cover of the Motown Hit Heat wave (Greatest Hits Album)
1972, He toured America and Europe. During this time he also recorded with PG & E at Miami’s Criteria Studios (Derek and the Dominos, the Allman Bros. et al).
Gladys Knight and the Pips
1973, album – Imagination – Guitar
The Undisputed Truth
1974, album – Down to Earth – Guitar
1975, album – Cosmic Truth – Guitar
His first tour with the Undisbuted Truth was opening for The Jackson Five, and his first show was at Madison Square Gardens, what a way to begin.
1975, album – Back to Earth – Guitar
Co-wrote – Let me be your Sunshine, It makes you Happy and Keeping me Outta the Storm.
This Rare Earth was a bit of a super group featuring new members, Frosty from Lee Michaels, Gerry Le Croix from Edgar Winters White Trash and Reggie McBride from Stevie Wonders band Wonder Love. He and Paul were the youngest at 21. He toured for almost a year solid opening for ZZ Top, headlining over Fog Hat, but mostly opening for a new band called ‘Kiss’.
1975, album – Let’s take it to the stage – Guitar
The most notable song was ‘Shit Goddamn Get off Your Ass and Jam’.
Ray Manzareks Nite City
1976, album – Nite City – Guitar
Also Co-wrote – In the Pyramid and Game of Skill
1977, album – Golden Days and Diamond Nights – Guitar and Vocals
Also Co-wrote – Riding on the Wings of Love, The Dreamer and Blinded by Love. He was the sole writer of Die High (a song which he wrote aged 16).
During this era he lived on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon, a home rented by Ray Manzarek. He lived with Danny Sugerman who wrote “No One Gets Out of Here Alive“, the Jim Morrison biography. He also wrote a book about that house, In the era in which Paul lived.He was written Out of “Wonderland Avenue” after a rendezvous with Dannys girlfriend. Both She and Danny have passed. An old regret of his was when they were packing to leave the house. Ray had offered him anything in the house – including unseen photos of Jim Morrison, every Rolling Stone Magazine from the first Issue to the date of his departure, and most importantly Rays old upright tack piano he played “Love Me Two Times” on. He left EVERYTHING behind. Too stoned to be bothered. He even watched as the dump truck loaded it all up to take to the landfill. At an Airport Ray gave him Jim Morrison’s Peacoat as they were leaving for a tour. Paul complained about it taking up too much room in his Luggage and he gave it back. Insulted Ray threw it on the ground, but it was later picked up by his wife. He says he was too self occupied to appreciate the gesture. Paul did one tour with this band in support of the first album. Nite City had broken up by the release of the second album.
1979, album – Live and Learn – Guitar
This album was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Paul Warren and Explorer
1980, album – One of the Kids – Wrote, arranged and sang. Lead Guitar
Paul put this band together around 1978. By 1979 he had a bidding war amongst record companies to sign them. There was a real scene in LA at the time, where he played packed clubs seven nights a week. Places like the Whiskey-A Go Go, the Roxy, the Central (which became the Viper Room) and Madam Wongs in Chinatown. The biggest LA nightclub at the time was called the Starwood. This is where Van Halen opened for Nite City and got their record deal. Paul Warren and Explorer were headlining almost every second weekend. Manzerek would often sit in with them. They chose to sign with RSO records, who were the biggest label in the world at the time. That ended up working against them because two months after the release of ‘One of the Kids’, the owner closed the label and retired. He made good money that year and took some time off. With a broken heart he licked his wounds with drugs and alcohol. When the money finally ran out (as it always does), it was time to find work.
1981, album – Modern Times – Co-wrote Stairway to Cleveland (We Do What we Want).
Paul was given a ‘Conceptual Writing’ credit for the term ‘Fuck you we do what we want’ – which became Jeffersons band motto. Truth is, they just stole it after seeing Paul scream it at Explorer shows in LA at the time.
1982 – Toured solid for a year with this Canadian band opening for ZZ-Top, 38 Special and Loverboy.
1983 – He recorded with her to help her get a record deal, both singing and playing guitar. Many of these tracks remain unreleased, in the Rock N Roll style she preferred singing.
1984 – He did Eight months of the ‘Private Dancer’ tour. At the time she was the biggest artist in the world. He had to quit this tour due to a previous contract signed with Colombia Records.
1985, Album – USA for Africa: We are the World
1989, album – Repeat Offender – Guitar
1991, album – Rush Street- Guitar and Background vocals
1991, album – Paid Vacation – Guitar
Co-wrote Silent Scream
1993, album – Greatest Hits – Guitar
He was Richard Marx’s Musical Director for seven years. He also played lead guitar and sang back-up vocals. Paul was with Richard from 1986 – 1994. During this time he released the Repeat Offender album. Right here Waiting was Number one in most of the world. The album sold over Six Million copies and the tour was a Worldwide Sell-out.
1994, album – Woodstock 94 – Guitar
1998, album – Joe Cocker Greatest Hits – Guitar
Between 94 and 95 Paul did Joe Cocker’s two year ‘Have a Little Faith’ tour. He also appeared in the ‘Let the Healing Begin’ video clip. Early in the Tour they played at Woodstock 1994 to an estimated crowd of 250,000, not to mention it was pay-per view on MTV and seen by millions more. Paul recalls staying up all night from a gig the night before, and without sleep at 11am it was show time.
Paul Warren and the Wreckers
1998, album – A Dog’s Life – Wrote, sang, produced and played Guitar
This was Paul’s band in LA for a Fifteen years.
1998, album – New Depths – Guitar
2005, DVD – (In Concert) Hawaii Five-O – Bass and Lead Vocals
Toured twice in 1982. Once as Guitar player and once as Bass Player. He also sang lead on both tours.
1998, album – Eros Live – Guitar
2001, DVD – Stilelibero – Guitar
2004, album and DVD – Eros Roma Live – Guitar
2006, DVD – Attached to Calma Apparente album – Guitar
Paul toured with the Italian artist Eros Ramazzotti from 1996 and 2005. Eros is one of the biggest selling artists in Europe having sold over 40 million records. Paul missed one tour as he was touring at the time with Rod Stewart. He also missed one Rod tour to finish an Eros tour.
2001, ABC Special – United we Stand (9/11 benefit)- Guitar (also backed up Carole King and Al Green) Michael Jackson Headlined the 11 hour concert – and also featured Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, N-Sync and Pink to name a few.
2004, DVD – One Night Only – Guitar
2007, DVD – Tribute to Princess Diana – Guitar
2009, album – Soulbook – Guitar
Paul is into his Twelfth year with Rod Stewart.
The Paul Warren Project
2011, Album – Round Trip – Wrote, Produced and Sang all Songs, Rhythm and Lead guitar and played Bass on all but two of the albums thirteen tracks. Paul also played Drums on a couple of songs.