Veteran hard rocker Paul Shortino, best known for his high-profile work fronting Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot, is a vocal master in the tradition of Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant, two of his all-time heroes. Rich, expressive and bluesy, his intense lead vocals are delivered with the inspired fervor of a true rock ‘n’ roll believer. And that he is, as proved quite consistently over the last two decades with a diverse string of independent projects. Today, when not writing and recording new material with which to showcase his pedigreed pipes, Shortino is developing and producing new artists for MusicWorks Entertainment (and its new label Rock Quarry Records), the firm he co-founded in 1997 with fellow musician and close friend J.T. Garrett.
Far beyond the realm of hard rock notoriety, Shortino is renowned for a quite different—but related—performance. In the early days of Rough Cutt, when Wendy Dio was first championing the band, a casting company rep caught them at L.A.’s famed Troubadour nightclub. Paul was called in to audition, and, decked out in fly white leather duds—“Oh, yeah,” he remembers them saying when they took in his rock-star splendor–and before you could shout ‘crank it to 11,’ Shortino was cast in cinema’s quintessential rock flick, the 1984 rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. As the notorious Duke Fame, he’s seen en route to his own sold-out “Enormodome” concert, strutting past Spinal Tap in what’s supposedly a Memphis hotel—“in actuality a Burbank Holiday Inn,” says Paul. Fame’s manager, played by Howard Hesseman, snubs the Tap with the classic line, “We’d love to stand around and chat, but we gotta sit down in the lobby [and] wait for the limo.”
Shortino’s first professional recording was as one half of the duo Paul & JoJo on the 1971 Snuff Garrett-produced single “Follow Me,” released on Bell Records, home to artists including the 5th Dimension, The Partridge Family, and Al Green. The song saw some chart action, but the label didn’t work it, focusing instead on other breaking hits and bigger-name acts. Paul began singing and playing rock ‘n’ roll in clubs all over L.A., mostly cover material, but some original songs as well. As L.A.’s burgeoning hard rock hey-day coalesced during the late ’70s and early ’80s, Shortino became a fixture in the scene’s ground zero, the Sunset Strip. It was here that the nucleus of Rough Cutt came together, originally featuring guitarists Jake E. Lee, who went on to fame with Ozzy Osbourne, and Craig Goldy, who did likewise with Giuffria and Dio.
We’ll talk Paul’s current endeavors, including his recent tour with Icons of Rock, which toured internationally with a variety of legendary music veteran vocalists from AC/DC, Boston, Santana, The Romantics and Survivor.
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