Paul Rutherford is best known as the flamboyant backing vocalist, dancer, and keyboardist in the hugely successful and equally controversial '80s Hi-NRG dance-pop outfit Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Born in inner-city Liverpool in 1959, Rutherford studied fine art at college and worked in a San Francisco antiques shop before he became a regular on his hometown's live circuit, performing in bands the Spitfire Boys, the Opium Eaters, and Hambi & the Dance, whose headline slot above Frankie Goes to Hollywood at Leeds nightclub The Warehouse impressed Holly Johnson so much that he invited him to join the group, replacing female vocalist Sonia Mazumder in the process. Despite only releasing two studio albums, Welcome to the Pleasuredome and Liverpool, they became one of the defining pop acts of the '80s, before splitting in 1987 due to "musical estrangement." Rutherford became their first member to launch a solo career a year later with acid house anthem "Get Real" (which -- like Frankie's "Relax" -- was banned by the BBC) and debut album Oh World, which featured a cover of Chic's "I Want Your Love" and three tracks produced by ABC. Following its disappointing sales, he retreated from the spotlight, becoming a personal assistant to Oscar-nominated actor Jaye Davidson, before reuniting with two of FGTH's original members, Mark O'Toole and Peter Gill, for a Wembley Arena tribute concert to producer Trevor Horn in 2004. Their set's positive reception inspired them to tour various European festivals with new singer Ryan Molloy, under the name Forbidden Hollywood, for several years. In 2010, after emigrating to New Zealand with his partner, he released his belated second solo album, The Cowboy Years, under the guise of Paul Rutherford/Butt Cowboys, while a year later his debut was reissued with several B-sides and remixes. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi