the jam

TRIBUTE - from left, Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan, Eagle Radio's Peter Gordon, artist Richard Heys, Rick Buckler, Barratt Homes managing director John Fitzgerald, mayoress Anne Murray and Woking mayor Michael Smith

TRIBUTE – from left, Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan, Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon, artist Richard Heys, Rick Buckler, Barratt Homes managing director John Fitzgerald, mayoress Anne Murray and Woking mayor Michael Smith

FANS of The Jam travelled from all over the country to see a £45,000, 7.7 ton tribute to Woking’s famous musical sons unveiled at the New Central development in the town.

The three-pronged sculpture made of oak – called The Space Between – was officially opened by the band’s former drummer Rick Buckler. His first impression of the structure, which stands nearly 20 feet tall, was “quite striking”.

Fans and council officials gathered in the rain as Rick – aided by a giant crane – pulled the cover off the sculpture at the £250million development of flats by Barratt Homes in Guildford Road.

The public art was designed and built by Richard Heys in his East Sussex studio before being installed in Woking as a tribute to the band formed by singer and guitarist Paul Weller, bass player Bruce Foxton and Rick in the 1970s.

They went on to have a string of hits including Going Underground, Start!, Town Called Malice and Beat Surrender.

Richard spent 15 months developing ideas with around 130 pupils from Woking College, Woking High School, St John the Baptist School and Bishop David Brown School (formerly Sheerwater School where The Jam formed).

After the unveiling Rick told the News & Mail: “I think it looks great because at the back you’ve got this high tech building that’s all straight lines but the sculpture isn’t. It’s very striking.

“If you look at it from different angles it changes and, of course, residents in the flats will be able to look at it from above which will be interesting.”

Fans came from as far afield as Dublin, Nottingham and Kent to see get a first glimpse of the sculpture and the drummer added: “I’m surprised so many people turned up to see it unveiled but that’s Jam fans all over, they’re still so dedicated.”

He also paid tribute to those behind the sculpture, saying: “Usually these kind of things come from within the music industry so it’s great that this is in Woking itself and the council was involved – and especially the kids from the local schools, including our old school.

“The whole way it was put together was fabulous, getting local people involved in it, and it’s going to be there a long time.”

Artist Richard said the three monoliths will weather to a silver grey colour in a couple of years and added: “I like to make art that is something you can build a relationship with, so I’d urge people to just walk around the sculpture and see it from different sides and I hope it speaks to you.”

Weller and Foxton were not at the ceremony but Weller said: “I’m proud that the Jam has inspired this great piece of artwork for Woking.

“It’s an honour to have this in my home town and to know all the hard work that has gone into making this special. Thank you to everyone involved who has made this possible.”

Foxton added: “I’m extremely proud to have been part of The Jam and would like to thank all the people involved in honouring us with this sculpture.”

Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan was also at the unveiling and praised Barratt Homes for funding the tribute.

He said: “The development is a major improvement in this part of the town centre and we’re hoping for many more Barratt developments to come – any more investment is welcome.

“In these rather challenging times you also need to invest in people’s recreation time, art and culture, and sadly some councils and businesses have stopped and that a sadness to me.

“We think the Jam is something worth celebrating. We think just recognising the contributions of people to this town is an important thing to do.”

Barratt Homes Southern Counties managing director John Fitzgerald added: “We’ve been working on New Central for two years and when we thought about what we could do as a centrepiece The Jam came up straight away.

“Richard has taken inspiration not only from The Jam but lots of local schoolchildren. It’s a real community project. It’s a delight to be able to fund public art of this nature and put something back into the community where we build.”

VOX POP

The new triple monolith tribute to The Jam was given a universal welcome by fans – although not all were enamoured by the sculpture itself.

“I have to admit to being slightly underwhelmed but I’ll have to have more of a look,” said Danny Plunkett, who had travelled from Dublin to see the artwork unveiled.

“But it’s about time something was done to recognise The Jam, I wondered when this would happen. They should put up a blue plaque in Stanley Road (Paul Weller’s childhood home and the title of a solo album) next.”

Steve Kerr, from Nottingham, added: “It’s just three logs really isn’t it? I suppose it refers to all of The Jam which is good. People always associate The Jam with Woking so it’s good that it’s here right in the centre.”

Ian Snowball, from Maidstone, Kent, said: “I’m glad they’ve done it, and they’ve got the numbers right…”, but Barry Pearson, also from Kent, was more positive. He said: “I think it’s a fantastic piece of abstract art that represents The Jam’s free spirit.”

Martin Carroll, from Camden, said: “It’s different isn’t it? Although I knew it would be abstract, I didn’t know what to expect. It does symbolise the trio of The Jam and it’s great to have something here in Woking to recognise The Jam.”

Billy Sullivan, lead singer with The Spitfires, from Watford, said: “It shows there were three of them I suppose…”

Promoter of Wake Up Woking, Vic Falsetta, added: “It’s great that The Jam have been honoured in Woking and the three figures will now live on for ever. I’d love to speak to the artist to discover more about his inspiration.”

Peter Gordon, from Eagle Radio, was also pleased with the sculpture, saying: “It’s high time we paid due respect to one of the best bands to come out of Britain. I’m delighted that the guys here at Barratt and Woking Borough Council have done this. It’s a fantastic piece of art that people will see every day and remember what Paul, Bruce and Rick have done for Woking.”

Ray Morgan said: “It should instigate a reaction from people – that’s what is important about public art, it stimulates  reactions one way or the other. It’s like the Lightbox Gallery – some people love it and some people hate it, but it still surprises me that some people haven’t gone in it!”

Last word goes to Rick who said: “I think it looks great. Much better than a statue of us – that would have filled me with dread. That would have been a mistake.”

BEAT GOES ON – drummer Rick Buckler

FOUNDING member of The Jam Rick Buckler has agreed to unveil a public sculpture inspired by Woking’s rock legends.

The much-anticipated tribute sculpture will be opened to the public by the band’s drummer on Thursday, July 12, at 3pm.

Local residents are invited to join special guests at the unveiling at Barratt Homes’ New Central development in Woking. The new statue sits at the heart of this collection of 449 new homes which is part of a £250million transformation of Woking town centre.

Visitors will be able to get a first glimpse of this piece of public art that has evolved from a dynamic tribute to The Jam into a unique community project.

And 10 lucky readers and a guest have a chance to meet Rick at a special reception after the statue unveiling.

Almost a year in the making, the artist Richard Heys drew his inspiration not only from the band itself but also from local schoolchildren’s interpretation of the group’s music during workshops at St John the Baptist School, Woking High School, and Bishop David Brown School (formerly Sheerwater School where Rick formed the band along with Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton).

The Jam released their debut album, In The City, 35 years ago and went on to have a string of number one hits including Start!, Going Underground, Town Called Malice and Beat Surrender.

Barratt Southern Counties sales director Lynnette St-Quintin said: “We’re really excited to finally be on the verge of unveiling what we think will be a fantastic centrepiece to Woking’s renaissance.

“It has been amazing to see how local residents have got behind this project, demonstrating just how proud they are of their rich musical heritage.”

Richard added: “Creating a piece of art on this scale for a community is always daunting and given the legendary subject it was all the more challenging.

“With the enthusiasm from the students and the powerful input of the local community, I feel that together we have created something truly special that not only represents the personal achievements of the band but also the place in which they are held in the hearts of the people of Woking.”

The official unveiling will be followed by an exclusive canapé reception in New Central’s sales and marketing suite and 10 lucky Woking News & Mail readers are being given a fantastic opportunity to meet Rick Buckler at this VIP event.

The first 10 people to email their contact details to seema.patel@barratthomes.co.uk will receive an invitation, for them and a friend, to the exclusive unveiling event.

HOSPICE FUNDRAISER - Bruce Foxton headlines Wake Up Woking 3

HOSPICE FUNDRAISER – Bruce Foxton headlines Wake Up Woking 3

BRUCE FOXTON is a happy man. A new wife, a new album and a reunion with his childhood friend and former bandmate Paul Weller have helped turn his life around.

The man who played bass and sang with Woking’s most famous musical sons The Jam was left distraught in 2009 when his first wife, Pat, lost a prolonged battle with cancer.

But gradually he has rebuilt his life and his career and he’s happier than he has been for years.
He married new wife Kate last summer, is putting the finishing touches to his first new album in years and he’s done it with the help of former Jam colleague Weller.

The album has been recorded at Weller’s studio in Ripley and he has added guitar on three tracks.

“It’s quite upsetting to talk about,” says Bruce when he looks back on Pat’s battle with cancer, as he prepares to play Wake Up Woking 3, a benefit show for the Woking and Sam Beare hospices on Friday, June 22.

Although Pat was never treated at either hospice, John Weller (father of Paul and manager of The Jam) was, so Foxton is only too pleased to help out because he knows the pain cancer causes.

I still think of Pat and I loved her dearly and wish she was still here – you can’t stop that. But Kate’s been fantastic, she’s made me smile again

“Pat had bowel cancer and they operated and she had 15 clear years,” he recalls. “But then she got breast cancer, they gave her chemo to clear it but then it was in her lymph glands.

“She had treatment in Israel. We decided to try it even though it hadn’t been fully tested. But in the end it became too much for her.

“It was an awful time for everyone, not just me. Pat’s sister Jackie I know misses her terribly too. In the latter stages of Pat’s illness I always knew when she was on the phone to Jackie because I’d hear her laugh – it was the only time by then.

“She was happy I was still playing music and really pleased I was back in touch with Paul – I’m sure she’s looking down now.”

Bruce’s personal life has taken a turn for the better in recent months with his marriage to Kate.

“It’s hard, but you have to keep going and Kate’s been great for me,” he says. “I still think of Pat and I loved her dearly and wish she was still here – you can’t stop that. But Kate’s been fantastic, she’s made me smile again.”

One bright aspect of Pat’s illness was that it led to a reunion between Foxton and Weller. Bass player and singer had not spoken for more than 20 years following Paul’s decision to quit The Jam in 1982, but when the frontman heard about Pat’s condition he got in touch.

Bruce says: “My wife suddenly going and John Weller going puts into perspective how petty little arguments are a waste of time, and it brought us closer together.”

Being in touch with Weller again has heralded a new musical birth for Foxton – he played bass on a couple of tracks on his friend’s Wake Up The Nation album and has joined him on stage several times, including the original Wake Up Woking event two years ago.

“Who’d have thought five years ago we’d be playing songs together live and recording together? I’m so pleased about it and I know Pat was pleased about it too.”

Foxton had several solo hits after The Jam and then joined punk band Stiff Little Fingers – but in latter years he returned to his Woking roots, forming From The Jam in 2006 with the band’s original drummer Rick Buckler.

“It was great to be playing with him again and the audiences loved it,” says Bruce.

“We were intending to write new material from the start but it was too much to think about when Pat was undergoing
treatment.”

Buckler has since left to form If… but Foxton has continued with former Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki, and Russell Hastings as singer.

“We’ve been writing for the past year and recording at Paul’s studio and he has played on three tracks. Steve Cropper from Booker T & The MGS has also played on it.

“We’re going back into Paul’s studio this month to finish recording and then we will get to mix it and it will become available on pledgemusic on July 1. It will be under my name and the working title is Back In The Room. I’m very proud of it.”

Four of the new songs have already been played at recent gigs by From The Jam, and Bruce says: “The reaction has been very favourable. Of course it’s all in a similar vein to what The Jam were doing because that’s the way I play bass. They’re just good pop songs hopefully.”

He also admits playing songs from The Jam’s 1970s heyday can become stale so they tend to mix it up.

“The real big hits like Town Called Malice, Going Underground and Start! are there all the time and we build the set around them but then work on album tracks, which stops the band becoming lazy or complacent,” Bruce explains.

“We played In The City last night and that was released 35 years ago! It’s scary in some ways but when I’m playing it feels like yesterday.”

From The Jam will headline Wake Up Woking 3 at the HG Wells Centre on Friday, June 22, and is there any chance Paul Weller may join them?

“I’m not sure,” says Bruce. “I suppose he might. It depends if he’s working elsewhere. I’m not hiding anything, I just don’t know.”

Tickets are priced from £25, email: gfundraising@wsbhospices.co.uk or call Katie Law on 01483 881752.