“Hey Paula” is an American pop standard love song recorded by the singing duo Paul & Paula. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending February 9, 1963, and also made it to number one on the Hot R&B Singles chart. “Paul” was the song’s writer, Ray Hildebrand, a student at Texas’ Howard Payne University, a Baptist institution in the city of Brownwood. “Paula” was Jill Jackson, the niece of the owner of the boarding house where Ray lived.
Writing and recording
Hildebrand wrote the song, originally titled “Paul and Paula”, taking inspiration from the Annette Funicello hit “Tall Paul”. Hildebrand and Jackson performed the song on a local radio station and the song soon became popular enough for the duo to try to make a professional recording. They went to a studio in Fort Worth, Texas, and were fortunate enough to find a producer, Major Bill Smith, with studio time and musicians booked and a missing lead vocalist. He recorded their version of the song and released it on his LeCam Records label, changing the name to “Hey Paula”, credited to Jill and Ray. When the record became a success, it was picked up by the larger Philips Records, which changed the billing to Paul and Paula.
When the song was released on Phillips, it hit the national charts in late 1962, reaching number one on both the pop and R&B charts in 1963. It spawned a follow-up top ten hit, “Young Lovers”, and a series of other hits for the duo.