SADE / PAUL DENMAN
“I enjoy being a cog in the machine,” says Paul S. Denman regarding his 30-year stint with sultry songstress Sade.
On bottom-bobbing hits like “Smooth Operator,” “Paradise,” “Cherry Pie,” “Never as Good as the First Time,” and “Turn My Back on You,” Denman joined Sting, Pino Palladino, and John Taylor to launch the wave of in-your-face bass that emanated from England in the earlyto- mid 1980s.
Over the years, Paul has pared down his plucking process, as evidenced by his deep, minimalist grooves on Sade’s lauded latest, Soldier of Love. “Mainly, I see myself as a song helper, pushing the music along,” he offers.
Born in Hull, England, in 1957, Denman had an acoustic guitar by age 12, but dug the “cool, background look of the bass player.”
A year later, after strapping on a friend’s bass and feeling a connection, he bought a Vox bass and began playing along with records featuring the rumble of Trevor Bolder (David Bowie), Colin Hodgkinson (Back Door), and Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath).
Exploration of ’70s punk, funk, and fusion followed, and by the time he moved to London in 1980, Denman was more than ready to replace the bassist in Pride, an R&B/soul band that included Nigerian-born Sade Adu as a backup vocalist.
It was a smaller splinter group—with Sade, Denman, guitarist/saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, and drummer Paul Cooke— that turned heads via its sparse sound, and eventually got signed to Epic. Cooke split, keyboardist Andrew Hale came onboard, and the band’s 1984 debut disc, Diamond Life, was a global smash.
Since then, the four members have been equal partners in the sophisti-pop staple known as Sade.
Official website www.sade.com
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