Singer Owen Paul embraces the song that made him famous

Kelly Young


It was 30 years ago that it became the track that defined the summer of 1986 and the career of a shy footballer turned singer from Glasgow.

But for Owen Paul, the success that came with a jaunty cover of a Bette Midler track proved the very definition of the proverbial blessing and a curse – but also one he has now learned to not just accept, but embrace.

His recording of My Favourite Waste of Time peaked at number three in the UK singles chart, bringing overnight stardom.

“On the day of that studio session we weren’t meant to be recording that song, but we did it and we did it in about three hours, completely flat out,” he remembers.

“I just sat in the room and I knew we had a hit.

“We were finished with the mixes and I just thought ‘that’s a smash’.

“And then I thought, ‘that’s a pop smash’ and I knew I was going to be a square peg in a round hole.”

Despite the sunny, upbeat number he had just cut, pop was not where Owen’s heart lay.

Raised in Glasgow by an Irish Catholic family, his first love had been football, in which he had enough skill to get himself on the books at Celtic Park.

However, the cultural revolution that came when punk bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols exploded on to the UK music scene in the 1970s changed everything.

“Everyone was just freaked out by it,” he said.

“My brother and his mates formed the band that went on to become the Simple Minds and they used to rehearse in our house, so I got to see them first-hand go from playing in pubs to the major international act they became.

“Like everyone used to join a club or something like that, at that period everyone was joining a band – whether they could play anything or not.

“And so because I looked the part I got asked to join one just to stand there.”

He didn't spend long standing though, jumping at the first opportunity to move to London with his brother and launch his career in earnest.

A contract soon followed, but it was his move away from his punk and rock roots with a brief foray into pop that brought him success.

Tension with the record company followed as the executives sought to recreate the success of My Favourite Waste of Time and he tried to move away from it.

In the end, he left the studio and instead embarked on a number of different ventures, including running a West End theatre and working to set up Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood franchises.

But the need to perform remained strong and he eventually returned to stage, as well as showing his skills as a producer and arranger, working with the likes of Mike + the Mechanics and Genesis.

And he even came to terms with the success his headline track had brought him, with My Favourite Waste of Time now a key part of his repertoire.

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