About Paul William Weller
(born 25 May 1958) is an English musician and singer-songwriter. Starting with the band The Jam (1976–1982), Weller went on to branch out musically to a more soulful style with The Style Council (1983–1989). In 1991 he established himself as a successful solo artist, and continues to remain a respected singer, lyricist and guitarist.
Despite widespread critical recognition, Weller has remained a national rather than an international star, and much of his songwriting is rooted in English culture. He is also the principal figure of the 1970s and 80s mod revival and is often referred to as the Modfather.
(1958–1975)Weller was born on 25 May 1958 in Sheerwater, near Woking, Surrey, England, to John and Ann Weller. He was initially known as John William Weller but later acquired the name Paul.
His father worked as a taxi driver and his mother was a part-time cleaner. In 1963 Weller started his education at Maybury County First School. His love of music started with The Beatles, then The Who and the Small Faces. By the time Weller was eleven and moving up to secondary school at Sheerwater County Secondary music was the biggest part of his life and he began playing the guitar.
In 1972 Weller formed the first incarnation of The Jam, playing bass guitar with his best friends Steve Brookes (lead guitar) and Dave Waller (rhythm guitar). Weller's father, their manager, began booking the band into local working men's clubs. Joined by Rick Buckler on drums, and with Bruce Foxton soon replacing Waller on rhythm guitar, the four-piece band began to forge a local reputation playing a mixture of Beatles covers and a number of compositions written by Weller and Brookes. In 1976 Brookes left the band and Weller and Foxton decided they would swap guitar roles, with Weller now the guitarist.
Although The Jam emerged at the same time as punk rock bands such as The Clash, The Damned, and Sex Pistols, The Jam better fitted the mould of the New Wave bands who came later. Also, being from just outside London rather than in it, they were never really part of the tightly-knit punk clique.
Nonetheless, The Clash emerged as one of the leading early advocates of the band and were sufficiently impressed by The Jam to take them along as the support act on their White Riot tour of 1977. The Jam's first single "In the City" took them into the UK Top 40 for the first time, in May 1977. Although every subsequent single had a placing within the Top 40, it would not be until the band released "The Eton Rifles", with Weller's very political lyrics, that they broke into the Top 10, hitting the No. 3 spot in November 1979.
The increasing popularity of their blend of pop melodies and Weller's barbed lyrics led, in March 1980, to their first number one single, "Going Underground".
They became the only band other than the Beatles to perform two songs ("Town Called Malice" and "Precious") on one edition of Top of the Pops. The Jam even had two singles, "That's Entertainment" and "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?", reach No. 21 and No. 8 respectively in the UK singles chart despite not even being released in that country – they got there purely on the strength of the huge number of people buying import sales of the German and Dutch single releases. The Jam still hold the record for the best-selling import-only singles in the UK charts. As the band's popularity increased, however, Weller became restless and eager to explore a more soulful, melodic style with a broader instrumentation.
In 1982, Weller announced that The Jam would disband at the end of the year. The announcement came as a shock to Foxton and Buckler, who felt that the band still had many years left. Their final single, "Beat Surrender", became their fourth UK chart topper, going straight to No. 1 in its first week. Their farewell concerts at Wembley Arena were multiple sell-outs; their final concert took place at the Brighton Centre on 11 December 1982.
The Style Council
At the beginning of 1983, Weller collaborated with keyboard player Mick Talbot to form a new group called The Style Council. Weller brought in Steve White to play drums, as well as singer Dee C. Lee, who had previously been a backing singer with Wham!
Free of the limited musical styles he felt imposed by The Jam, under the collective of The Style Council Weller was able to experiment with a wide range of music, from pop and jazz to soul/R&B, house and folk-styled ballads. The band was at the vanguard of a jazz/pop revival that would continue with the emergence of bands like Matt Bianco, Sade, and Everything but the Girl, whose members Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt contributed vocals and guitar to the 1984 The Style Council song "Paris Match".
Many of The Style Council's early singles performed well in the charts, and Weller experienced his first success in North America, when "My Ever Changing Moods" and "You're The Best Thing" entered the US Billboard Hot 100. In Australia they were far more successful than The Jam, reaching the top of the charts in 1984 with "Shout To The Top".
Weller appeared on 1984's Band Aid record "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and was called upon to mime the absent Bono's lyrics on Top of the Pops. The Style Council were the second act to appear in the British half of Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985.
In December 1984, Weller put together his own charity ensemble, The Council Collective, to make a record, "Soul Deep", to raise money for striking miners. The record featured The Style Council plus a number of other performers, notably Jimmy Ruffin and Junior Giscombe. In spite of the song's political content, it still picked up BBC Radio 1 airplay and was performed on Top of the Pops, which led to the incongruous sight of lyrics such as "We can't afford to let the government win / It means death to the trade unions" being mimed amid the show's flashing lights and party atmosphere.
As the 1980s wore on, The Style Council's popularity in the UK began to slide, with the band achieving only one top ten single after 1985. The Style Council's death knell was sounded in 1989 when their record company refused to release their fifth and final studio album, the house-influenced Modernism: A New Decade. With the rejection of this effort, Weller announced The Style Council had split, and although the final album did have a limited vinyl run, it was not until the 1998 retrospective CD box set The Complete Adventures of The Style Council that the album was widely available.
Early solo career (1990–1995)
Weller performing at V-FestIn 1989, Weller found himself for the first time since he was 17 without a band and without a recording deal. After taking time off throughout 1990, he returned to the road in 1991, touring as 'The Paul Weller Movement' with long-term drummer and friend Steve White. After a slow start playing small clubs with a mixture of Jam/Style Council classics as well as showcasing new material such as "Into Tomorrow", by the time of the release of his 1992 LP, Paul Weller, he had begun to re-establish himself as a leading British singer/songwriter. This self-titled album saw a return to a more jazz-guitar-focused sound, featuring samples and a funk influence with shades of the Style Council sound. The album also featured a new producer, Brendan Lynch. Tracks such as "Here's a New Thing" and "That Spiritual Feeling" were marketed among the emerging acid jazz scene.
Buoyed by the positive commercial and critical success of his first solo album, Weller returned to the studio in 1993 with a renewed confidence. Accompanied by Steve White, guitarist Steve Cradock, and bassist Damon Minchella, the result of these sessions was the triumphant Mercury Music Prize-nominated Wild Wood.
His 1995 album Stanley Road took him back to the top of the British charts for the first time in a decade, and went on to become the best-selling album of his career. The album, named after the street in Woking where he had grown up, marked a return to the more guitar-based style of his earlier days. On the track "I Walk On Guilded Splinters", Noel Gallagher (of Oasis), is credited guest guitarist. Weller found himself heavily associated with the Britpop movement that gave rise to such bands as Oasis, Pulp and Blur. Weller even appeared as a guest guitarist and backing vocalist on Oasis' hit song "Champagne Supernova". The album's major single, "The Changingman", was also a big hit, taking Weller to No. 7 in the UK singles charts. Another single, the ballad "You Do Something To Me", was his second consecutive Top 10 single and reached No. 9 in the UK.
(1996–2007)Heavy Soul, the follow-up to the million-selling Stanley Road, saw Weller twist his sound again. The album was more raw than its predecessor; Weller was now frequently playing live in the studio in as few takes as possible. The first single, "Peacock Suit" reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart, and the album reached No. 2. Success in the charts also came from compilations: "best of" albums by The Jam and The Style Council charted, and his own solo "best of" collection Modern Classics was a substantial success in 1998.
In 2000, while living in Send, Surrey, he released his fifth solo studio album, Heliocentric. There were rumours at the time that this would be his final studio effort, but these proved unfounded when he released the No. 1 hit album Illumination in September 2002 which was co-produced by Noonday Underground's Simon Dine, preceded by yet another top 10 hit single "It's Written In The Stars". Weller also appears on the 2002 Noonday Underground album called Surface Noise, singing on the track "I'll Walk Right On". Between these two albums he had also released a second successful live album, 2001's Days Of Speed, which contained live acoustic versions from his world tour of the same name. The LP included some of his best-known songs from his solo career and the back catalogues of his The Jam and The Style Council days. Weller had again found himself without a record contract and the tour provided him with the opportunity to view his works as one back catalogue.
In 2002, Weller collaborated with Terry Callier on the single Brother To Brother, that featured on Callier's album Speak Your Peace. In 2003, Weller teamed up with electronic rock duo Death in Vegas on a cover of Gene Clark's "So You Say You Lost Your Baby" which featured on the album Scorpio Rising.
In 2004 Weller released an album of covers entitled Studio 150. It debuted at No. 2 in the UK charts and included Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" besides covers of songs by Gil Scott-Heron, Rose Royce, Gordon Lightfoot, and others.
His 2005 album As Is Now featured the singles "From The Floorboards Up", "Come On/Let's Go" and "Here's The Good News". The album was well-received, though critics noted that he was not moving his music forward stylistically, and it became his lowest-charting album since his 1992 debut. In February 2006 it was announced that Weller would be the latest recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BRIT Awards. Despite a tendency to shun such occasions, Weller accepted the award in person, and performed four songs at the ceremony, including The Jam's classic "Town Called Malice".
In June 2006, a double live album titled Catch-Flame!, with songs from both his solo work and his career with The Jam and The Style Council, was released. In late 2006, the album Hit Parade was released, which collected all the singles released by The Jam, The Style Council and Weller during his solo career. Two versions of this album were released: a single disc with a selection from each stage of his career, and a four-disc limited edition, which included every single released and came with a 64-page booklet.
Weller was offered a CBE in the 2006 birthday honours, but rejected the order.
Critical success (2008 – present)
Weller and band line-up in CardiffThe double album 22 Dreams was released on 2 June 2008 with "Echoes Round The Sun" as the lead single. Before recording this album, Weller had parted company with his existing band, resulting in the replacement of everyone except guitarist Steve Cradock. As well as Cradock, the new band consisted of Andy Lewis on bass, Andy Crofts of The Moons on keys and Steve Pilgrim of The Stands on drums. This album saw Weller move in a more experimental direction, taking in a wide variety of influences including jazz, folk, tango as well as pop-soul more associated with his Style Council days.
Weller also featured on two songs from The Moons' album "Life on Earth", playing piano on "Wondering" and lead guitar on "Last Night On Earth".
Weller was the surprise recipient of the 2009 BRIT award for "Best Male Solo Artist", which resulted in controversy when it was discovered a suspiciously high number of bets had been placed for Weller to win the award, for which James Morrison was T4's favourite. It was reported that the bookmakers had lost £100,000 in the event, and that as a result would not be taking bets for the awards in the future.
In 2009 Weller guested on Dot Allison's 2009 album, Room 7½, co-writing "Love's Got Me Crazy". November and December also saw him on tour, playing shows across the country.
On 24 February 2010, Paul received the Godlike Genius Award at the NME Awards. His 2010 album, Wake Up the Nation, released in April, was met with critical acclaim and subsequently nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. The album also marked his first collaboration with The Jam's bassist Bruce Foxton in 28 years. In May 2010 Weller was presented with the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award, saying "I've enjoyed the last 33 years I've been writing songs and hopefully, with God's good grace, I'll do some more."
On 22 November 2011, Weller announced his eleventh studio album "Sonik Kicks", which was released on 19 March 2012.
On November 8, 2012, Paul Weller announced that he will release Dragonfly, a limited edition vinyl EP, on December 17, 2012. Only 3000 copies are to be released.
His current band line-up consists of Steve Cradock, Andy Lewis, Andy Crofts, Steve Pilgrim and Ben Gordelier.
Soon after the formation of The Style Council, 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 two children, Leah and Nathaniel (Natt), who is also a working musician and once appeared on stage with his father at Hammersmith Apollo at age 12. Weller has another daughter, Dylan, by a short-lived relationship with a make-up artist called Lucy.
While he was recording at the Manor studios in the mid 1990s, he became involved with Samantha Stock. They have two children. In October 2008 they broke up and Weller moved in with Hannah Andrews, a backing singer on his 22 Dreams album, who has toured with his band. The pair married in September 2010 on the Italian island of Capri. The couple had twin boys, John Paul and Bowie on 14 January 2012.
On 24 April 2009, John Weller, Paul Weller's father and long-time manager since the days of The Jam, died from pneumonia at the age of 77.
Musical style and legacy
Weller's stated influences range widely, including The Beatles, Dr Feelgood, The Kinks, The Who, Small Faces and 1960s and 1970s soul music.
During the Britpop explosion in the mid-1990s a number of bands, such as Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Blur cited Weller and The Jam as a major influence. More recent generations of bands have also noted Weller as an inspiration, including Hard-Fi, Arctic Monkeys, The Enemy, The Rifles and The Moons.
David Lines' memoir, The Modfather, documented his life growing up in Garforth, Leeds, and his adolescent obsession with Paul Weller.
Studio albums Paul Weller (1992) Wild Wood (1993) Stanley Road (1995) Heavy Soul (1997) Heliocentric (2000) Illumination (2002) Studio 150 (2004) As Is Now (2005) 22 Dreams (2008) Wake Up the Nation (2010) Sonik Kicks (2012)
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Munn, Iain (2008). Mr Cool's Dream. The Complete History Of The Style Council. Wholepoint Publications. ISBN 978-0-9551443-1-8.
Reed, John (2002). My Ever Changing Moods: Fully Revised and Updated. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8866-8.
Paul Weller dot Com (Paul Weller's official website)
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