The Story


Letter from Paul Weller

Letter from Paul Weller

A keen amateur photographer and huge fan of The Jam, I sent some photos from gigs, plus a few I took off the TV (from the ‘Start!’ video) to the fan club and got a letter back from Paul Weller, saying how much he liked them as they had ‘Fantastic colour’.

About 3 months later I sent some more photos to the fan club, and then a couple of days after I was on my way home from work one Tuesday and bumped into my dad. “Oh, I forgot to tell you,” he said “Ann Weller phoned for you about doing a photo session.” …..“Don’t worry, she said she’ll call you back.” I ran home as quickly as I could and waited for the phone call – which finally came on the Sunday!

Ann Weller said, “Sorry I lost your number, anyway, the band really liked your pictures and would like to meet up with you, and talk about doing a photo session.” For once in my life I was speechless. They were my favourite band and hugely popular, and here was I an inexperienced photographer, but it was The Jam!

I went to the Weller’s house in Woking and spoke with John Weller, Paul’s dad and the band’s manager and Ann, Paul’s mum – a truly lovely lady who looked after the fan club with Paul’s sister Nikki. Ann was kind enough to pick me up and drop me back to Woking station as I didn’t drive! Eventually, I got to meet up with the band at Air Studios, overlooking Oxford Circus. It was a daunting prospect. I’d spoken to them a few times after gigs but this was different. Anyway, I got up there and was introduced to everyone – they were working on ‘Absolute Beginners and Tales From The Riverbank’.

We discussed the photo session and Paul had the idea of shooting in Chiswick Park as it had great natural backgrounds and would contrast with the bands dark suits. What I didn’t know at that time was that The Beatles had been photographed there many years before filming Paperback Writer and Rain.

I didn’t really have a clue what I was going to do. I had a Pentax ME Super, which was an expensive camera for the time, but an amateur camera nonetheless, and I had a couple of budget lenses. The good thing was I was familiar with my kit, so that was one less thing to worry about!

I was so nervous that it was hard to really know what to do, especially as it was my first photo session ever. We did the session and I chipped in with a couple of ideas, like the reflection of the window shot on the inlay pic, which looks like it’s been taken through the glass. Anyway the band were happy with the shots and decided to use them for the rear of the sleeve and lyric sheet of their forthcoming single ‘Absolute Beginners’. The single went to No. 3 in the UK charts and the rest as they say is history!

2012 – it’s 30 years since The Jam split and with many other Jam related projects going on this seemed the right time to exhibit my photos. Absolute Luck? ………..Absolutely!!!