Vale Paul Gray, producer, Wa Wa Nee co-founder
Paul Gray, record producer, music director for Tina Arena and Kate Ceberano, and frontman and songwriter for ‘80s hit Sydney band Wa Wa Nee has lost his four year battle with cancer.
He was 54 years old.
Gray and guitarist Steve Williams formed Wa Wa Nee in 1982, tapping on the sensual white funk craze at the time.
He once commented on the resurgence of ‘80s music, “That was the music of my youth. It was music based around strong singalong songs while the ‘90s was more about the beats.”
Wa Wa Nee were signed by CBS (now Sony Music Entertainment) in 1985 and had a series of hits.
Debut single ‘Stimulation’ (April 1986) reached #2 while follow up ‘I Could Make You Love Me’ (August 1986) reached #5.
Their self titled debut album peaked at #29.
Later releases including their second album Blush charted at the low end, although one of the singles ’Sugar Free’ got up to #35 in America, and featured in the Cassandra movie.
Deni Hines said in tribute, “Many years ago, (Paul) heard me singing in a kitchen, and that’s how my musical journey began.”
David Campbell called him “one of the loveliest blokes in the industry” and Damien Leith “a gentle, kind and extremely talented guy” – sentiments repeated in other posts by peers.
After Wa Wa Nee split in late 1989, Gray moved into a music director and keyboard role for Bardot, Kate Ceberano, Tina Arena and CDB, as well as for a number of tribute projects including Countdown Spectacular 2 as well as those centred around the music of Led Zeppelin, Pure Gold ‘80s and The Beatles.
He set up his own studios, much in demand for TV jingles while his production credits included Ceberano, Anthony Callea and Scandal’us.