Paul Weller at the No Cactus Festival in Belgium. Despite widespread critical recognition as a singer, lyricist, and guitarist, Weller has remained a national, rather than international, star and much of his songwriting is rooted in British culture. Heliocentric – Paul Weller – A Selection From Fly On The Wall B Sides & Rarities is also the principal figure of the 1970s and 1980s mod revival, and is often referred to as “The Modfather”. The Daily Telegraph said of Weller: “Apart from David Bowie, it’s hard to think of any British solo artist who’s had as varied, long-lasting and determinedly forward-looking a career.
Although born John William Weller, he became known as Paul by his parents. His father worked as a taxi driver and a builder and his mother was a part-time cleaner. Weller started his education at Maybury County First School in 1963. His love of music began with The Beatles, then The Who and Small Faces. Weller’s musical vocation was confirmed after seeing Status Quo in concert in 1972. The Jam’s first single, “In the City” took them into the UK Top 40 in May 1977. As the band’s popularity increased, however, Weller became restless and wanted to explore a more soulful, melodic style of music with a broader instrumentation, and in consequence in 1982 he announced that The Jam would disband at the end of that year.
The action came as a surprise to Foxton and Buckler who both felt that the band was still a creative formation with scope to develop further professionally, but Weller was determined to end the band and move on. At the beginning of 1983, Weller teamed up 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. Many of The Style Council’s early singles performed well in the charts, and Weller would also experience 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? Bono’s lyrics on Top of the Pops. In December 1984, Weller put together his own charity ensemble called The Council Collective to make a record, “Soul Deep”, to raise money for striking miners, and the family of David Wilkie. 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. In 1989, Weller found himself without a band and without a recording deal for the first time since he was 17.