Personalities | Paul Weller | The Modfather | Guitar Heroes

The enduring and iconic guitarist and songwriter Paul Weller (b. 1958) was born John William Weller in Woking, Surrey. He was a boyhood Beatles fanatic before discovering The Who and, through them, the mod movement.

His father, who managed him for the majority of his career, bought his 12-year-old son an electric guitar for Christmas; at first, neither realized that an amplifier was necessary too.

The Jam was formed at secondary school, and Weller played bass in early incarnations of the band. With Rick Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton on bass, The Jam learned their trade by constant gigging. The band’s arrival in London coincided with the burgeoning punk scene, and seeing The Sex Pistols live was a pivotal moment for Weller. While adopting punk’s energy, The Jam remained distinct from the movement, not least because of the band’s musical ability.

Weller’s first role models on guitar were Pete Townshend and Dr. Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson, whose dynamic rhythm-lead style impressed Weller. The Jam’s arguably best album, All Mod Cons (1978), showcases Weller’s maturing style and use of techniques ranging from power chords (‘Billy Hunt’) to acoustic-electric work (‘Fly’) and backwards masking (‘In The Crowd’). With The Jam at the height of their popularity in 1982, Weller disbanded the outfit, citing frustration with the limitations of the three-piece format. His next project, The Style Council, a loose confederation of musicians based around Weller and keyboardist Mick Talbot, enabled him to explore more diverse musical areas, adding Latin and jazz to his repertoire. The Style Council folded in 1989, leaving Weller out of favour and without a recording contract.

Influenced by the classic rock of Traffic, Free and Neil Young, Weller returned to basics by playing live and mounted an impressive comeback, beginning with his self-titled solo debut in 1992 and culminating in the million-selling Stanley Road (1995). Weller’s influence was a rare point of unity between rivals Blur and Oasis. Weller’s 2005 album As Is Now was a critical hit, and in 2006, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BRIT Awards. His Wake Up The Nation was released in 2010 and Sonik Kicks in 2012.

Essential Recordings

The Jam: All Mod Cons

The Style Council: The Cost Of Loving

Solo: Stanley Road

Solo: 22 Dreams

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