In 1994, when Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott first met outside a nightclub in Merseyside, few could have guessed that the pair – he a songwriter for Hull pop-rock group the Beautiful South, she a shelf-stacker in her home town of Saint Helens – would go on to form one of the most fruitful musical partnerships of the 90s. As part of the Beautiful South, Heaton and Abbott churned out hits including Rotterdam (Or Anywhere), Don’t Marry Her, and Perfect 10, the band’s defining, platinum-selling hit.
Heaton and Abbott parted ways in 2000 after Abbott decided to take time off to prioritise her family. But she and Heaton couldn’t be kept apart for too long: in 2013, nearly 20 years after they first met, the pair reunited for What Have We Become?, their first album under their own names. Since then, they’ve gone on to release three more records, the most recent of which was 2020’s Manchester Calling, their first No 1 as a duo. On 7 October, they’ll release NK-Pop, a new album recorded at Manchester’s Blueprint Studios with the pair’s longtime collaborator John Williams, which promises to be another collection of catchy, drily comic pop-rock.
Between records, Heaton has stayed busy, becoming one of the UK’s most consistent sources of good news during the pandemic. In 2020, he made headlines after donating a “large sum” to help staff members affected by the closure of Q magazine – inspiring us to name him one of our Heroes of 2020 – and earlier this year, he put £1,000 behind the bar at 60 pubs across the UK to celebrate his 60th birthday.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about how to forge a partnership as fruitful as Heaton and Abbott’s – or about how they first met, or how they made Perfect 10, or whether paying for a £60,000 bar tab counts as a charitable donation – you can post your questions for the pair in the comments below by 12 September 2022.