BOY ABOUT TOWN
March 1977. Sid Vicious has just joined the Sex Pistols, The Clash are about to release their debut single and in the Stratford Place studios of Polydor Records in London’s West End, a Rickenbacker sails through the air and splinters noisily against the sound-proofed wall. “I think I broke at least a couple,” says Weller, reliving his guitar-wrecking teenage frustrations making The Jam’s debut album, In The City. “We weren’t used to proper studios, or a proper producer, so we were still naive. It was hard at first having to deal with that discipline.” Weller paints us a self-portrait of the artist as a young mod. “Arrogant, overly serious,” he describes, “and quite spoilt as well. By the time I was 18, although I wasn’t a fucking superstar or anything, nevertheless I was making my living playing music and didn’t really have a boss as such. I was very hot-headed and probably difficult to deal with. But I was on a mission and I was trying to keep the band on course, which was difficult sometimes. There were lots of things the record ecord company suggested we should be doing that I thought, ‘No fucking way!’ I had a lot to fight against.” Not all his fights were metaphorical. In November 1978 while touring third LP, All Mod Cons – the first truly classic Weller album that transformed The Jam from om sneered-at “’ 60s revivalists” to the greatest British band of their age – he found himself in the dock after a ruckus in a Leeds hotel bar with an Australian rugby team that left bassist Bruce Foxton with a broken rib. Outside the courthouse loyal fans waved “Paul Weller Is Innocent” placards. Was he? “Probably,” he says, a coy twinkle in his eye. “That one was a bit hairy. I had a couple of bruises and was in clink for a night, banged up with a few others. But it was alright, bumming cigarettes and all that,
Jack the lads: The Jam (from left, Bruce Foxton, Paul Weller, Rick Buckler), 1978.