HomeDIY CraftRay Hildebrand, the ‘Paul’ of Hitmakers Paul and Paula, Dies at 82

Ray Hildebrand, the ‘Paul’ of Hitmakers Paul and Paula, Dies at 82


ray hildebrandThe recording of which was a love song written in college with a friend, Jill Jackson, “Hey Paula,” 1 hit in 1963 and brought them instant fame as Paul and Paula died on August 18 at their home in Overland Park, Kan. He was 82 years old.

His son-in-law, Larry Sterling, said the cause was dementia.

“Hey Paula” was a sweet, romantic song about a couple who were close to getting married. Mr. Hildebrand wrote it at the request of a friend whose girlfriend was named Paula, but the sentiment behind it was for Judy Hendrix, a former girlfriend with whom Mr. Hildebrand wanted to reunite.

The song is a musical conversation initiated by Mr. Hildebrand, who sings in it:

Hey, hey, Paula.
i want to marry you
Hey, hey, Paula.
No one else ever could.

When Ms. Jackson answers, she sings:

Hey Paul.
I’ve been waiting for you.
Hey, hey, hey Paul.
I also want to marry you.

The popularity of “Hey Paula” developed slowly and then exploded. It began as a song that Mr. Hildebrand and Ms. Jackson sang on a 15-minute radio show in Brownwood, Texas, where they were both attending Howard Payne College (now the university). The show’s disc jockey told him that the audience liked the song, and suggested that he record it.

At a studio in Fort Worth, they cut a 45-rpm record, and the song, released on the small Le Cam label, became a regional hit. Recognizing the song’s potential, Mercury Records soon bought her contract and the recording and reissued it on their Philips label.

“They changed our names,” said Mr. Hildebrand. Link, Howard Payne Magazine, in 2012. “We called the song Jill and Ray’s ‘Paul and Paula,’ and they called it Paul and Paula’s ‘Hey Paula,’ which is better marketing.”

Released in late 1962, “Hey Paula” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the second week of February 1963, displacing the Rooftop Singers’ “Walk Right In”. It stayed at the No. 1 spot for three weeks. Paul and Paula’s next single, “Young Lover”, peaked at No. 6 at the end of that April.

They were on tour in England in the spring, when “Hey Paula” reached No. 8 on the Melody Maker charts, and they met the Beatles at the BBC Television studios.

In June he sang “The First Quarrel”. On Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”, and later joined Mr. Clarke’s three-week musical caravan as part of a roster that included Gene Pitney, Lou Christie, Bob B. The Sox and the Blue Jeans, The Crystals and Ruby and the Romantics were also included.

But when Clark’s tour reached Cincinnati in late July, Mr. Hildebrand realized he had had enough of the road. At the end of one show, he told Ms. Jackson that he was leaving the tour. He felt that he was no longer in control of his life.

“So at 5 in the morning in Cincinnati, I wrote a note to Dick Clark and put it under his door,” he said in a program Two years earlier the Ministry of Sports was organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to which he had devoted most of his life. “I said, ‘I’m so sorry.'”

Mr. Hildebrand said in an interview with the website Classic Bands that Mr. Clarke replaced him on “Hey Paula” for the rest of the tour.

Once he was off tour, Mr. Hildebrand began dating Miss Hendrix again. They married in early 1964 and remained together until his death in 1999.

Jill Jackson, now Jill Landon, said she supports Mr. Hildebrand’s decision to leave the Clark Caravan. “It was the right thing for him to do,” she said over the phone.

He and Mr. Hildebrand released three albums in 1963. They continued to perform occasionally together for some time and, until recently, reunited for old shows and other events.

Raymond Glenn Hildebrand was born on November 21, 1940, in Joshua, Texas. His father, Walter, was a school principal; His mother, Alma (Wood) Hildebrand, was a teacher. After attending Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, he transferred to Howard Payne College on a basketball scholarship.

In the summer of 1962, he got a job at the college swimming pool and lived in the gymnasium to save money on housing. He started writing songs in the silence of the gym.

A teammate asked him to write a song about his girlfriend, Paula. Another teammate heard an early version of the song, sung entirely by Paul, and suggested changes.

“He said, ‘You should let the girl sing before the boy,'” Mr. Hildebrandt recalled in the Link magazine interview. At first he thought the suggestion was ridiculous, he said, but then he agreed to it and turned the song into conversation.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English in 1964, Mr. Hildebrand began a new career as a contemporary Christian singer and songwriter. He recorded albums under his own name and, in the early 1980s, mixed music with comedy with his partner Paul Land.

From 1967 to 1981, he was in Kansas City, Mo. In 2010, he was program director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the organization’s national office. It was mostly musical work, writing songs with pop tunes and performing them at conventions and summer camps for young athletes. He continued to perform in fellowship programs for many years.

“He brought a lot of fun and laughter to the stage,” Wayne Atcheson, the organization’s former assistant director, said in a phone interview. “You never knew what he’d say to make you laugh.”

Mr. Hildebrand was included in Fellowship Hall of Champions in 2003,

He also worked as a television producer and real estate appraiser.

He is survived by his daughter, Heidi Sterling; his son, Michael; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a brother, Steve.

Looking back at “Hey Paula” many years later, Mr. Hildebrand said he understood its appeal.

He said in a Classic Bands interview, “I think one of the things that stood out in ‘Hey Paula’ was that it was like a couple dating on air.” “They were singing back and forth to each other. You had Steve and the Idys, but it wasn’t the teen pizza-and-peanut-butter songs.

He added: “It was marketable. It was cute.”



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