Thick As Thieves authors Ian Snowball and Stuart Deabill reunite The Jam

FOR the first time in nearly 30 years all three members of legendary Woking band The Jam have been involved in the same project.

“It’s all about the timing,” says Ian Snowball, co-author of Thick As Thieves, a new book about the trio who topped the charts with a string of hits like Beat Surrender, Town Called Malice and Going Underground.

Frontman Paul Weller has written the foreword for the book, while bass player Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler both agreed to be interviewed.

WOKING LEGENDS – Weller with bass player Bruce Foxton, who was interviewed for the book
WOKING LEGENDS – Weller with bass player Bruce Foxton, who was interviewed for the book

Ian adds: “We managed to get all three members of The Jam on board, which hasn’t happened since Paolo Hewitt’s authorised biography, A Beat Concerto, which was published shortly after the band split up in 1982.

“Until now 30 years later they’ve had their own politics and no one was able to get the support and input of all three members for anything. But we were able to sell the idea of the book to all three of them, which is amazing.”

Thick As Thieves is mostly a collection of thoughts from The Jam’s dedicated fans, but it also includes interviews with several people integral to the band’s history who have never been featured in print before.

“We set out to create a book that celebrates the band,” says Ian, who lives in Kent. “We didn’t want politics or negativity, we wanted something positive and celebratory, and I think that has helped.

“It’s a genuine book written by and contributed to by genuine Jam fans – the band played a huge part in their lives and still do 30 years later.”

The book includes 140 photographs of the band that have never been seen before, as Ian explains: “We tracked down people who we knew had their own personal photos of The Jam on stage or walking on Brighton seafront or whatever and we were able to get those donated.”

Several of the best images came from Derek d’Souza, a dedicated fan who used to smuggle his cameras into gigs by breaking them down and stuffing bits in his socks and pockets.

He is interviewed in Thick As Thieves, and Ian reveals: “Derek took loads of pictures and sent some samples to the Weller family because Paul’s mum and sister ran the fan club, and he got a call to say ‘Can you do a photographic shoot with the band?’

“He obviously leapt at the chance and did the photo shoot. A couple of pictures were later used by the band but of course he had loads that have never seen the light of day and offered us a collection of his photographs for the book.”

Another unsung Jam hero featured in the book is Bill Smith, who worked for Polydor Records as an artist, and designed almost every cover for The Jam’s singles and albums.

“He was chuffed to bits when we contacted him because he’d never been approached to do interviews,” says an incredulous Ian.

“This guy was integral to the visual display of The Jam and no one had spoken to him!

“We’ve been able to get people on board who have never had a voice, and personal material that has never been seen.”

Thick As Thieves also takes a look at the late John Weller, Paul’s father who was manager of the band from start to finish.

“He cropped up whenever we spoke to anyone and there was never a bad word said about him,” says Ian.

“So we put a whole section together about him – a lot of people said he was the fourth member of The Jam but no one had really written anything much about him.

“I was a bit nervous when I sent the manuscript to Paul – but he must have seen it as a positive thing because he agreed to write the foreword, and he doesn’t do a lot of stuff to do with The Jam now.”

Writing and editing Thick As Thieves has obviously been a labour of love for Ian – but he never saw The Jam in action because he was too young.

“I first got into The Jam in 1981 after buying That’s Entertainment,” he recalls. “It was on my 11th birthday.

“I got my birthday money and marched into town and used 50p to buy That’s Entertainment in Woolworth’s. It was my first record and I remember running home with excitement to play it.

“In Maidstone where I grew up it was all about mods at that time. I lived in a part of town that was full of people riding around on scooters who were into The Jam. There was no choice really.

“Although I was too young to see them, Stuart saw them on their last tour as he’s a couple of years older than me.

“My story is very common – I never got to see the band but they made such an impact that they stayed with me anyway.

“There are people in the book who saw them 250 times. I’d never met so many obsessive people.

“Every band has its core base of fans but these guys are incredible.”

Recommended For You

About the Author: Barry Rutter