Paul Collins begain his career as the drummer (and sometime singer & songwriter) in an infulential Los Angeles power pop trio The Nerves, alongside Jack Lee and future Plimsouls frontman Peter Case. The band are best remembered for "Hanging on the Telephone", a song later made famous by Blondie. After The Nerves' demise, Paul Collins formed his own group as singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter for The Beat, sometimes called The Paul Collins Beat to avoid confusion with the British ska group also called The Beat (or The English Beat in the US). Their self-titled 1979 debut is regarded as a classic of the genre, receiving very strong reviews. Unfortunately, the massive power pop hit Get The Knack may have overshadowed the album, and it failed to generate much in sales.
Renamed the Paul Collins' Beat in the early 1980s, the band was performing indie rock before The Pixies, The Stone Roses or even Morrissey and The Smiths. Paul Collins' Beat were in a constant state of touring and recording around the world. They appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and contributed a song to the Caddyshack soundtrack, alongside Journey, Bill Murray and Kenny Loggins. The band broke up in 1989, following the release of their sixth album, One Night. Paul Collins continues to perform to this day with a new version of Paul Collins' Beat, in addition to his solo project, an all star country-rock band called the Paul Collins Band.
Since the early 1980s, Collins has been living on and off in Spain, where he has a particularly strong following, and spends most of his time performing in Europe and Japan, although he still holds citizenship in the United States. In fact, his two former wives are from Spain.
During this time, he produced a lot of Spanish pop bands, like La Granja, Los Limones and Los Protones. The relationship with the latter band proved very fruitful, since two members of Los Protones are now part of the new Paul Collins Beat.
Collins also for a brief time in the mid-'90s ran a record label, Wagon Wheel Records, that specialized in power pop and alt-country music.
In 2007, Collins released his first solo album of the decade, Flying High. The music received strong reviews and is reminscent of the catchy power pop of The Beat, particularly in the opening song, Rock and Roll Shoes. Additionally, Flying High showcases Paul Collins' alt-country, roots-rock and Americana styles, with the singles Will You Be A Woman and Afton Place, which were released worldwide as music videos.
During March 2008, Paul Collins released Ribbon Of Gold as the follow-up to 2007's critically acclaimed Flying High. This album contains several songs the band performs live in concert, including Falling In Love With Her, I Still Want You, Big Pop Song and She Doesn't Want To Hang Around With You.