Paul Weller

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Paul Weller Glad Times Fat Pop Volume 1
Photo: Sandra Vijandi

Undeniably a legendary figure in the world of music and with a career spanning several decades and over 30 studio albums under his belt, Paul Weller has left an indelible mark on the British music scene and continues to captivate audiences worldwide with his unique blend of rock, pop, and soul.

English singer-songwriter and musician Paul Weller was born on 25 May 1958 in Woking, Surrey, England. He was born John William Weller to John and Ann Weller (née Craddock). Though named John William, he became known as Paul to his parents.

He achieved fame with The Jam in the late-1970s, launching the career of Weller, who went on to form the Style Council and later started a solo career.

Weller’s love of music began with The Beatles, The Who and Small Faces. He became interested in 1960s mod culture particularly after hearing ‘My Generation’ by the Who. As a result, he began riding a Lambretta scooter, styling his hair like Steve Marriott and immersing himself in the mid-late 1960s soul and R&B records released by Tamla Motown and Stax.

The Jam formed in Woking, Surrey, England, in 1972. The line-up was fluid at this stage, consisting of Paul Weller on guitar and lead vocals together with various friends at Sheerwater Secondary School. They played their first gigs at Michael’s, a local club. The line-up began to solidify in the mid 1970s with Weller, guitarist Steve Brookes, Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler.

The Jam signed to Polydor Records UK for £6,000 ($10,200) and released one live album and six studio albums, the last of which, The Gift, reached number one on the UK Albums Chart. Between 1977 and 1982 they scored 18 UK top hits including four number-1 hits, (‘Going Underground’, ‘Start!’, ‘Town Called Malice’ and ‘Beat Surrender’).

Weller formed The Style Council in late 1982 with keyboardist Mick Talbot, previously a member of Dexys Midnight Runners, the Bureau and the Merton Parkas. The Style Council scored seven UK top 10 hits and had hit singles and albums in Australia and New Zealand during the 1980s.

In late 1984, Weller took part in Band Aid and then put together his own benefit record for the UK miners’ strike, which was called “Soul Deep” and credited to the Council Collective. The 12″ of the single featured interviews with striking miners, although half of the money raised went to the widow of David Wilkie, a taxi driver who was killed whilst driving strike-breaking miners to their shift.

At the height of the Style Council’s success, Weller and Dee C. Lee, the Style Council’s backing singer, began a romantic relationship. The couple married in 1987 and divorced in 1998. They have a son and a daughter.

In 1989, Weller found himself without a band and no recording deal for the first time since he was 17. After taking time off for most of 1990, he returned to the road late in the year, touring as “The Paul Weller Movement” with long-term drummer and friend Steve White.

Weller released the single, ‘Into Tomorrow’, on his own Freedom High record label, in October 1991. Its success (reaching Number 36 in the UK chart) led to Weller being offered a new record deal with Go! Discs.

He released his debut solo album ‘Paul Weller’ in 1992, it reached Number 8 in the UK chart.

Wild Wood the second solo studio album by Weller was released in September 1993 peaked at Number 2 on the UK Albums Chart, and contained four UK hits: ‘Wild Wood’, ‘Sunflower’, ‘The Weaver’ and ‘Hung Up’.

Stanley Road the third solo studio album by Weller was released in 1995, peaking at Number 1 on the UK chart. The album took its name from the street in Woking where Weller grew up. The album’s cover collage was created by the artist Peter Blake, designer of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s album artwork.

In 1998 Q magazine readers voted Stanley Road the 46th greatest album of all time.

Weller’s album of covers entitled Studio 150, debuted at No. 2 in the UK charts in 2004, and included Bob Dylan‘s ‘(All Along the Watchtower’), ‘Close to You’ (Burt Bacharach, Hal David), ‘Birds’ (Neil Young), ‘Hercules’ (Allen Toussaint), ‘Don’t Make Promises’ (Tim Hardin) as well as covers of songs by Gil Scott-Heron and Rose Royce, amongst others.

In 2008, after then-Conservative Party leader and former Eton pupil David Cameron chose the Jam’s ‘The Eton Rifles’ as one of his Desert Island Discs, Weller expressed disgust, saying, “It wasn’t intended as a fucking jolly drinking song for the cadet corps”.

Weller’s father John, who passed away in 2009, was his manager for over 30 years, right from his first gigs to his time in The Jam, The Style Council and his journey as a solo artist.

In April 2014, Weller won £10,000 in damages from Associated Newspapers after “plainly voyeuristic” photographs of his family out shopping were published on MailOnline.

Over the years, Weller’s contributions to music have been recognised with multiple awards, including the BRIT Icon Award, the Q Awards, and the Ivor Novello Awards.

In 2015, Pete Naughton of The Daily Telegraph wrote, “Apart from David Bowie, it’s hard to think of any British solo artist who’s had as varied, long-lasting and determinedly forward-looking a career.”

Talking to the BBC in 2020, Weller stated, “I wish for nothing more than what I do. I don’t look to achieve anything else than what I’m doing now. To make records, to write, to play, it’s all I ever wanted to do, and it’s still what I want to do. That’s success in itself.”

66 the seventeenth solo studio album by Weller was released on 24 May 2024 and was recorded at Weller’s Black Barn studio from 2021 to 2024. The title is a reference to his 66th birthday, just a day after the release.

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