Ray Hildebrand, the “Paul” in ‘60s pop duo Paul & Paula, died Friday (Aug. 18) in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 82.
Hildebrand passed away “peacefully,” and was surrounded by his family, according to a statement from his publicist.
Born December 21, 1940, in Joshua, Texas, Hildebrand met his singing partner Jill Jackson (Paula) while attending Howard Payne College (now called Howard Payne University) in Brownwood the Lone Star State.
Though never romantically involved, Paul & Paula landed a string of songs on Billboard’s charts, including “Young Lovers,” “First Quarrel,” “First Day Back at School,” and “Something Old, Something New,” and their best-known hit, the multi-million-seller from 1963 “Hey Paula,” which Hildebrand penned. The single logged three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Mercury Records chief Shelby Singleton signed the pair, and reissued “Hey Paula” on its Phillips subsidiary. It was also Singleton who renamed the pair as Paul & Paula, apparently concerned that an act named Ray and Jill singing about “hey, hey Paula” and “hey, hey Paul” was a bridge too far.
Paul & Paula released two albums and a Christmas-themed set, before disbanding in 1965, Hildebrand keen to complete his college education and pursue a different musical direction.
The pair would remain friends, and occasionally reunited for special gigs.
A devout Christian, Hildebrand’s post- Paul & Paula solo recordings were largely a reflection of his faith. “Say I Do” is said to be a trailblazing record of the contemporary Christian genre. Later, he would team up with Paul Land, performing Christian music under the name of Land & Hildebrand.
Hildebrand traveled the country sharing his music and faith, and worked with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, reps say.
The late singer and songwriter is preceded in death by his wife, Judy Hendricks, and survived by his daughter, Heidi Sterling, and son Mike Hildebrand, both of Kansas City.