- Paul Weller
Paul Weller in concert
Background information Birth name John William Weller Also known as "The Modfather" Born 25 May 1958
Woking, Surrey, England
Genres Rock, pop, punk rock, mod revival, New Wave Occupations singer-songwriter, musician, poet Instruments Guitar, vocals, piano, bass guitar Years active 1977–1989, 1991–present Associated acts The Jam, The Style Council, Smokin' Mojo Filters, Ocean Colour Scene, Oasis Website www.paulweller.com Notable instruments Rickenbacker 330
Paul Weller (born 25 May 1958) is an English singer-songwriter. Starting with the band The Jam (1976–1982), Weller then went on to branch out musically to a more soulful style with The Style Council (1983–1989). In 1991 he re-established himself as a successful solo artist, and continues to remain a respected singer, lyricist and guitarist.
Despite widespread critical recognition in most of all the United States, Weller has remained a national rather than an international star, and much of his songwriting is rooted in British culture. He is also the principal figure of the 1970s and 80s mod revival and is often referred to as the Modfather.
- 1 Early years 1958–1976
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Influences
- 5 Legacy
- 6 References in literature
- 7 Discography
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Early years 1958–1976
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.
The Jam: 1976–1982
Although The Jam emerged at the same time as punk rock bands such as The Clash, The Damned, and the 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.
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: 1983–1989
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
In 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 creditted 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 #7 in the UK singles charts. Another single, the ballad "You Do Something To Me", was his second consecutive Top 10 single and reached #9 in the UK.
The Modfather: 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 #5 in the UK Singles Chart, and the album reached #2. Success in the charts also came from compilations: "best of" albums by The Jam and 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 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 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, 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
The 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 inflences including jazz, folk, tango as well as pop-soul more associated with his Style Council days.
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.
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 bassist Bruce Foxton in 28 years. In May 2010 Weller was presented with the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award, stating "I've enjoyed the last 33 years I've been writing songs and hopefully, with God's good grace, I'll do some more."
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 are expecting twins in early 2012.
During the Britpop explosion in the mid-1990s a number of fledgling bands, such as Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Blur, cited Weller and The Jam as a major influence. As a new generation of bands emerged, Weller was again noted as an influence by bands such as Hard-Fi, Arctic Monkeys, The Enemy and The Rifles.
References in literature
- Paul Weller – (1992) #8 UK
- Wild Wood – (1993) #2 UK (Platinum)
- Stanley Road – (1995) #1 UK (4 × Platinum)
- Heavy Soul – (1997) #2 UK (Gold)
- Heliocentric – (2000) #2 UK (Silver)
- Illumination – (2002) #1 UK (Gold)
- Studio 150 – (2004) #2 UK (Silver)
- As Is Now – (2005) #4 UK (Gold)
- 22 Dreams – (2008) #1 UK (Platinum)
- Wake Up the Nation – (2010) #2 UK (Gold)
- ^ "Desert Island Discs with Paul Weller". Desert Island Discs. BBC. Radio 4. 16 December 2007.
- ^ "Paul Weller wins Best Male Solo Artist at the 2009 BRIT Awards". http://www.nme.com/news/brit-awards-2009/42874.
- ^ "The modfather returns". The Times (London). 2 September 2007. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article2347958.ece.
- ^ Pierre Perrone (27 April 2009). "John Weller: Father of Paul Weller who managed his son for 30 years". The Independent (UK). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/john-weller-father-of-paul-weller-who-managed-his-son-for-30-years-1674817.html.
- ^ Reed, John (2002). My Ever Changing Moods: Fully Revised and Updated. Omnibus Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-7119-8866-8.
- ^ "Paul Weller heads up Mercury Prize nominations". 20 July 2010. http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/75781-Paul-Weller-heads-up-Mercury-prize-nominations. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ "Paul Weller - Stanley Road (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Paul-Weller-Stanley-Road/release/876015. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- ^ "Paul Weller – As Is Now Review". 16 December 2005. http://www.stylusmagazine.com/reviews/paul-weller/as-is-now.htm. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ "Paul Weller rejected a CBE". 16 January 2007. http://www.nme.com/news/paul-weller/25851. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- ^ "Bookies lose £100,000 after Paul Weller BRIT Awards win 2 February 2009". Nme.com. 2009-02-20. http://www.nme.com/news/paul-weller/42928. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- ^ "Dot Allison streams Pete Doherty, Paul Weller-featuring album online". 3 September 2009. http://www.nme.com/news/dot-allison/47109. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ "Paul Weller Confirms UK Tour". idiomag. 10 July 2009. http://www.idiomag.com/peek/92560/paul_weller. Retrieved 15 July 2009.
- ^ "NME Godlike Genius award for Modfather Paul Weller". The Independent (London). 3 September 2009. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/nme-godlike-genius-award-for-modfather-paul-weller-1893969.html. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- ^ "Dizzee Rascal heads up Mercury prize nominations". BBC News. 20 July 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-10696387. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ Michaels, Sean (20 January 2010). "Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton reunite for a Jam". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jan/20/paul-weller-bruce-foxton-jam. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ "Lily Allen wins three Ivor Novello songwriting awards". BBC News. 20 May 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10132614. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ Paton, Maureen (9 August 2009). "Natt Weller". You (Daily Mail supplement): 33.
- ^ Off the record by David Smith Evening Standard 31.08.07
- ^ Paul Weller: changing man by Mick Brown for the Daily Telegraph 10 May 2008
- ^ "Paul Weller marries backing singer Hannah Andrews in Capri | The Sun |Showbiz|Music". The Sun. 2010-10-04. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/music/3163726/Paul-Weller-marries-backing-singer-Hannah-Andrews-in-Capri.html. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- ^ "Weller & Wife Expecting Twins". PaulWeller.com (London). 7 November 2011. http://www.paulweller.com/news.php?item=440. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- ^ "John Weller: Father of Paul Weller who managed his son for 30 years". The Independent (London). 27 April 2009. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/john-weller-father-of-paul-weller-who-managed-his-son-for-30-years-1674817.html. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ Lines, David (5 July 2007). The Modfather: My Life with Paul Weller (Paperback ed.). Arrow Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0099476597.
Studio albums Live albums Singles"In the City" · "All Around the World" · "The Modern World" · "News of the World" · "David Watts" / "'A' Bomb In Wardour Street" · "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" · "Strange Town" · "When You're Young" · "The Eton Rifles" · "Going Underground" / "Dreams of Children" · "Start!" · "That's Entertainment" · "Funeral Pyre" · "Absolute Beginners" · "Town Called Malice" / "Precious" · "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?" · "The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)" · "Beat Surrender" Compilations Related articles
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