Paul Weller (born John William Weller, 25.5.1958)
Paul Weller is an English singer / songwriter, who first found fame in the punk era, as the singer and guitarist in The Jam.
Paul Weller: Childhood
Paul Weller was born in Woking, England in a working class neighbourhood. He was brought up in Stanley Road; the street name was later used for the title of one of Weller's solo albums.
Paul wanted to form a band from the age of around 10 and aged 12, he was given a guitar by his family and he learned to play along with the music that he listened to. At 14, he played his first gig with his friend Steve Brooks at the Walton Road Working Men's Club.
Paul Weller: The Jam
The Jam played in the lunch hour at their school and the interest shown by the female pupils made Weller realise that a career in music could be quite a tantalizing prospect! The band, with Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler alongside Brookes and Weller, continued to play around Surrey and London, managed by Weller's father. Their popularity grew; notable when they were booked to play at the Red Cow in Hammersmith, with queues forming around the block to see them play.
In 1977, Polydor Records signed the Jam for £6,000. Later that year, they appeared on Top of the Pops, the show that Paul Weller used to watch avidly as a child. Although they rose to fame at the same time that the punk scene was popularized, The Jam were never a part of the London clique and were more akin to the 'new-wave' style of bands that followed punk bands like The Sex Pistols.
The Clash was one London band that did take notice of The Jam though, and took them on their White Riot tour in 1977. Eventually, the Jam outsold The Clash in terms of UK singles sales and went on to be the more successful of the two bands. The Jam's first venture into the UK Top 40 was 'In The City', released in May 1977. 'Eton Rifles' was the first of their singles to reach the Top 10, reaching number three in 1979. The next year, 'Going Underground' reached number one. This achievement was followed with 'Start!' and 'Town Called Malice.'
In 1982, it was announced that The Jam would be splitting up. 'Beat Surrender', their fourth number one, was their last ever single. Their final concert, at the Brighton Centre, was a sell-out.
Paul Weller: The Style Council
Weller formed The Style Council in 1983, with keyboardist Mick Talbot and Steve White, who has continued to play with Weller ever since.
Weller's new band was not as commercially successful as The Jam, yet Paul Weller's public profile continued to grow. Weller appeared on the charity record, Band Aid's 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' (he was filmed miming Bono's part on Top of the Pops, as the U2 singer was unavailable) and The Style Council played at the huge Live Aid event at Wembley in 1985.
The Style Council's popularity in the UK began to decrease throughout the 1980s and in 1989, their record label refused to release their fifth album, Modernism: A New Decade. Later that year, Weller broke up the band.
Paul Weller: Solo career
A few years after The Style Council split, Paul Weller returned, with Steve White, firstly as The Paul Weller Movement, then simply as Paul Weller. He became a frontrunner of the 1990's 'Britpop' movement, along with the likes of Blur and Oasis. His first solo album was Paul Weller.
The album's follow-up, Wild Wood, is considered by many to be one of Weller's finest moments and Stanley Road, his third solo outing, became the biggest selling album of his career. 'The Changingman', a single from the album, reached number seven in the UK singles charts. Next up, the Heavy Soul album, reached number two in the album charts and in 2000, Weller released Heliocentric. At the time, there were rumours that this would be his final studio album but two years later, he released the number one album, Illumination. 'It's Written In the Stars', taken from the album, was a top 10 single. In 2004, Weller released Studio 150, a covers album, followed a year later by As Is Now. In 2008, Weller's new album, 22 Dreams will be released.