Born October 16th 1972; died November 3rd 2012
Doogie Paul, who has died of cancer aged forty, was a singularly mercurial figure, both as bass player with James Yorkston and the Athletes over five albums across ten years, and during his early days as an award-winning if somewhat bruised and battered skateboarder. Paul captivated too on the all too rare occasions he performed his own songs live. Paul's untimely passing has robbed Edinburgh and Scotland's music scene of a rare talent, who, whether in the studio, onstage or in a bar with the many friends and strangers his energy sparked off, remained an instinctive, open-minded and unique presence.
Douglas Paul was born in Glasgow to Anne and Douglas, who led a musical family. Paul's father had been a professional bass player, and his elder brothers, Alan and Iain, played guitar and drums respectively. Paul grew up with his family in Newton Mearns, where he attended Mearns Primary and Eastwood High schools. Although bright, Paul left school as soon as possible to indulge a passion for skate-boarding which ensured the six-footer several championship wins, as well as no end of hospital visits. That career ended after Paul leapt off his board to avoid a collision with a much younger boy while practising for a competition. The incident briefly left Paul wheelchair-bound.
Paul first picked up a bass in his late teens, and played with bands in Glasgow before hooking up with Yorkston and the Athletes in Edinburgh. Paul toured with the band extensively, providing vital backing vocals as well as bass to Yorkston's doleful croon. Beyond his crucial role with Yorkston, between 2006 and 2008 Paul sang and performed his own material at shows usually involving associates of the Fife-based Fence Collective, which Yorkston and the Athletes remain linked to.
Accompanying himself on banjo, Paul's songs were spartan, intense and jarringly lovely. Some were recorded in demo form, though none were released. A version of folk legend Lal Waterson's song, Altisidora, was recorded with fellow Athlete Reuben Taylor, and Paul played bass on an album by Waterson's daughter and son, Marry Waterson and Oliver Knight. Paul was also involved in a tribute night to Waterson at the BBC Electric Proms in 2007.
Paul was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder in January 2010, but, after extensive sessions of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, was given the all-clear after a one-year check-up, only for him to relapse earlier this year.
As Yorkston relates on a Facebook tribute page to Paul set up by his multitude of friends, the last time Paul played as part of James Yorkston and the Athletes was at shows in London and Edinburgh. While too weak to play and sing at the same time, the pair duetted for a moving rendering of Yorkston's song, Temptation, from the 2008 album, When The Haar Rolls In.
With things worsening over the last few weeks, Paul checked into the Marie Curie hospice at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, only to move back home shortly afterwards. After much persuasion by the friends who visited and looked after him, Paul returned to the Marie Curie hospice, where he passed away soon after.
As all those who spent time with him in the last few days of his life confirm, Paul was a one-off. A free-spirit with an inspirational warmth and positivity, Doogie Paul loved life, and the people who filled his, to the last.
Paul is survived by his parents and brothers.
Neil Cooper, with thanks to Alan Paul and Marta Tycinska
The Herald, November 20th 2012