James Yorkston | 01/01/70

Image: RIP Doogie Paul

We were awfully saddened at the weekend to learn that Doogie Paul had passed away. Doogie played the stand up bass with James Yorkston for many years, a fine musician and a great character. James has written some moving words for his pal Doogie, which we share with you below - Laurence Bell


A sad weekend. My good friend Doogie Paul died of cancer early on Saturday morning. Doogie had played double bass with me since 2001 and we'd toured all over together, playing hundreds of shows and recording five albums and numerous other things. He'd been first diagnosed a couple of years ago, but had appeared to have responded well to the treatment, to such an extent that he was well enough to play the Moving Up Country 10th Anniversary shows earlier this year. However, he relapsed at some point and this was discovered just a few weeks ago. He went down hill very quickly towards the end of last week.

His playing was spot on, instinctive and passionate. Onstage I could always rely on him to follow me down which ever path I took the songs, going off the rails spectacularly if needs be, or sitting back and playing beautifully softly, singing along with that crazy almost falsetto voice of his. I remember his harmonies in 'Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk' crossed the line between the major and the minor and sounded downright odd, but they also worked somehow, suggesting all sorts of different emotions. And he could speak abstract too - or pretended to, which helped me a great deal. So, if I said - I want a song to sound like an angry bear who's just dropped his chainsaw onto his foot, Doog would give it a go, without raising an eyebrow - at least not whilst I was in the room. And as a musician, you need people like that, people who'll trust you and go with your daft whims. It's a hugely valuable trait.

I have so many memories of Doogie from all over the world. Daft fairground ride adventures him and Reuben Taylor got up to in Sweden, or ridiculous arguments about Napoleon enroute to Cardiff (!) Or just drinking and laughing with him for weeks on end in Berties. Until he got barred of course, for his, ahem, creative stocktaking.

I was lucky enough to be in touch with Doogie a lot throughout these last two years. He always had a very straightforward view of things, which could be a very handy asset - cutting through the nonsense to whatever was really important. He was very forgiving towards people who'd hurt him a great deal, just keen to repair the friendships he valued. In these final two weeks, I managed to get through to Edinburgh and see him a few times and he was almost the same old Doogie, except a heck of a lot thinner - thinner even than where his initial chemo treatment had put him. However when I saw him for the final time on Friday afternoon, his health and appearance had deteriorated a great deal. It was incredibly upsetting and took me a good few goes before I could open my mouth to say any more than "Hi Doog". He responded though, briefly, so he knew I was there, which meant a lot to me. Later on, Faisal and Reuben arrived and there we were, the four of us together for the last time.

This is going to take a long while to sink in. When I was asked to help with his wake, my first thought was, "Well, I'll ask Doogie to help" before I realised that, obviously I couldn't do that anymore. I won't pretend he was perfect, as no-one is, but he was a real individual, taking his own path and I'll miss him a great great deal.


You can pay your own condolences at the public facebook group remembering Doogie here.