“I KEEP thinking there’s stuff I’ve left out…” Rick Buckler is musing about his autobiography, That’s Entertainment: My Life In The Jam.
As the drummer in Woking’s most famous musical export, he travelled the world and stormed the charts with frontman Paul Weller and bass player Bruce Foxton. For a time in the late ’70s and early ’90s the trio were undoubtedly the biggest band in Britain as hits like Town Called Malice, Going Underground and Beat Surrender all went to number one.
Now Rick is telling the story of The Jam from the inside, including tales about the early gigs at Sheerwater School through being part of the punk revolution and on to the world tours and chart success.
That’s Entertainment includes other aspects of Rick’s life, including his later bands, but he says: “It keeps going back to The Jam because it had such a great influence on myself, Paul and Bruce. It’s pivotal to everything.
“When I look back and think about it, I still feel very proud of what we achieved really. I still think, looking back, it’s almost like a dream come true. We worked really hard for years and then got the touring and chart success, working our way through the various size of venues. What could possibly go wrong?”
The Jam split at the height of their fame in 1982 when Weller decided to call it a day and concentrate on other musical ideas. It’s no coincidence that Rick’s book starts with that split.
“My only regret is that we could have got a year or two more, had a wiser head taken control,” he says. “We were pretty much dictated to by the record company and our record contracts.
“It did end on a high, that’s the silver lining. But I know that, at the time, myself and Bruce felt there was more that we could have done.
“A lot of it was probably the amount of pressure that Paul especially – but all of us to an extent – was under. He just couldn’t handle that any more and decided he was taking control of his own life.
“We knew it wouldn’t last for ever and we just got on with our lives.”
For Rick that meant other bands like Time UK and The Gift – as well as a new career in furniture restoration – before returning to the songs of his most famous group in From The Jam.
“I wanted to revisit The Jam songs,” he explains, and Bruce later joined the band following a couple of guest appearances. Rick has since left, although Bruce has kept the band going, performing the songs of The Jam live all round the world.
“It started to turn into a tribute act, doing the same thing over and over again,” says Rick. “I thought I’ve done what I wanted to do and don’t see why I should carry on. Anyway, it wasn’t The Jam
without all three of us.” The drummer says he hasn’t spoken to either of his former bandmates for a long while but sent them an advance copy of his book.
“I wanted them to read the book in case there was anything he was unhappy with – I didn’t want to upset anyone – but I didn’t get much of a response. It’s sad, but I just don’t even think about it any more.”
As for writing the book, it took him months but Rick says he could check many facts and dates with thejamfan.net website which he set up as an archive.
“Jam fans know more about it than I do,” he says. “A couple of times I’ve been pulled up on something…but it’s a long time ago.
“When I started, it was mainly to write everything down while I’ve still got all my marbles! Then I just kept on writing.
“It was just something I felt I needed to do, I wanted to put my side of the story.”
He is currently touring the country doing Q&A sessions under the title In The Crowd and says he’s loving it.
“A lot of Jam fans were close to us – they were ours we were theirs. It’s interesting hearing all the questions,” he says.
The most common question is about which is his favourite Jam song and he says it’s too difficult to answer.
“Probably something off Sound Affects, or maybe Setting Sons,” he replies. “…Although every time I answer it I forget about stuff off This Is The Modern World.”
A full list of In The Crowd evenings with Rick Buckler can be found at www.strangetown.net although there are currently no plans for an event in Woking.