Paul Weller
by Beth Palmer

Paul Weller at Wembley Stadium
Blur with Paul Weller, The Selecter, Steve Davis DJ - Wembley Stadium - Sunday 9th July 2023. Wikimedia Commons.

Paul Weller was born in Woking in 1958 and attended Maybury County First School followed by secondary school in Sheerwater. He grew up in a close family with one sister; his father was a local taxi driver and his mother was a caretake at the Shah Jahan mosque. It was with school friends Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxtona and Steve Brookes that Weller formed an early incarnation of the Jam managed by Weller’s father. After playing at local venues and working men’s clubs the band supported the Clash on tour. Their biggest successes came during the late 70s and early 80s with hits including ‘The Eton Rifles’, ‘Going Underground’, ‘A Town Called Malice’ and ‘Beat Surrender’. They filmed the video for ‘Funeral Pyre’ on Horsell Common and ‘A Town Called Malice’ was directly inspired by the frustrations of surburban teenagers and the struggles of working-class life. Weller later recalled the lyrics, ‘The ghost of a steam train echoes down my track/ It's at the moment bound for nowhere just going round and round’ were penned about the noises of trains he heard from his childhood home near Woking station.

‘Beat Surrender’ was a number one hit but Weller had already decided to move on with the Style Council. The Style Council featured Weller alongside the vocals of Dee C. Lee who would go on to become his first wife. Mick Talbot also joined as keyboardist after success with Dexy’s Midnight Runners. ‘You’re the Best Thing’ was one of the bands biggest hits and is Weller’s most played song on Spotify. Weller’s anti-Thatcherite politics and affinity with working-class issues was emphasised when the group recorded a charity record with profits going to the disputants in the miners’ strike. The mod style of the Jam evolved with this next band but Weller remained a style icon for mods throughout this period.

His eponymously titled 1992 album saw Weller going solo followed by popular albums Wild Wood in 1993 and Stanley Road in 1995 (named after the street in Woking where he spent his childhood). He has continued to produce studio albums across the last thirty years. He has been recognised by the Brit awards, the Ivor Novello awards and the NME awards. He is one of few musician with number 1 albums in five consecutive decades. His most recent album, entitled 66 was released to coincide with his 66th birthday in 2024.

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