Paul Gilbertson (born 29 March 1962) is an English guitarist. previously with the rock group James. He formed the original band and began its chaotic songwriting method of jamming. At an early performance at the Hacienda he played his guitar left handed. He advocated improvisation during live performances and during group recording sessions. Gilbertson was replaced in the band by Larry Gott. Gilbertson is currently working as a taxi driver in South Manchester and has had no contact with the band for more than fifteen years.
Gilbertson was childhood friends with Jim Glennie, who had no real interest in music at the time. Gilbertson convinced Glennie to buy a bass guitar and help him form a band. Two weeks later, having never played any instruments before, Gilbertson announced they were to play their first gig. This fearless attitude had a strong influence on James. Gilbertson insisted on doing improvisations onstage as well as off and was at first adamant that he and Glennie should not take guitar or bass lessons, and that the band should not record separately in booths on different days, but rather worked as a group for recordings.
He believed this kept the music special and exciting, because no one was consciously controlling the direction of the music. The music was forming organically, as opposed to being written in advance.
Gilbertson and Glennie remained close friends throughout the band's early years. Gavan Whelan and Tim Booth later joined the band. This first line up went on to perform regularly, including playing at the Hacienda Club in Manchester.
Gilbertson left the band after a period of him losing interest in attending practices and performances, and error-prone playing. Gilbertson turned up late for a performance and was told he was no longer in James and had been replaced by Larry Gott. Glennie and Gilbertson knew Gott previously as their guitar tutor, and later as someone who was involved with the band arranging gigs and recording demos.