About Jah Wobble
John Joseph Wardle , known by the stage name Jah Wobble, is an English bass guitarist, singer, poet and composer. He became known to a wider audience as the original bass player in Public Image Ltd in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but left the band after two albums. Following his departure from PiL, he developed a successful solo career. In 2012, he reunited with fellow PiL guitarist Keith Levene for Metal Box in Dub and the album Yin & Yang. Since 2013, he has been one of the featured pundits on Sunday morning's The Virtual Jukebox segment of BBC Radio 5 Live's Up All Night with Dotun Adebayo. His autobiography, Memoirs of a Geezer, was published in 2009. His daughter is music producer Natalie Wardle.
Wardle was born in Stepney, East London, His father, Harry Eugene Wardle, worked as a postman, while his mother, Kathleen Bridget , was a school and County Hall secretary. Wobble grew up with his family in Whitechapel's Clichy Estate in London's East End. He is a long-time friend of John Lydon whom he had met in the 1970s at London's Kingsway College. The two formed half of the group of friends known as "The Four Johns", along with John Grey and John Simon Ritchie . Jah Wobble acquired his stage name through the drunken, mumbled version of Wardle's name by Sid Vicious, which Wobble kept because "people would never forget it".
In his early life and career, by his own admission, Wardle was given to occasional bouts of aggression, exacerbated by heavy drinking and drug use. As a result, he ended up living in a squat with John Gray in West London, whilst Lydon formed The Sex Pistols. With admittedly large "builders hands", he had experimented with the guitar, but found playing bass a more connected and whole body experience, influenced in part by admiring Bob Marley's and The Wailers bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett on stage in 1975. Wardle was as critical of his friend Vicious's bass playing as John Lydon, and had hence played in experimentation sessions with Lydon. After he burned all the possessions of his squat-mates, they left him alone there with a mattress, a headboard and his Music Man-copy bass.
Following the Sex Pistols' break-up, Lydon approached Wobble about forming a band. Both had similarly broad musical tastes, and were avid fans of reggae and world music. The band began rehearsing together in May 1978, although remained unnamed until July 1978, when Lydon officially named the band Public Image , after the Muriel Spark novel The Public Image. Wobble's bass playing drew heavily on dub, which has remained an important feature of his music. Having experimented with Lydon pre-Sex Pistols break-up, he had written a simple repetitive bassline on which Lydon wrote "Public Image". PiL debuted in October 1978 with "Public Image", which reached number 9 on the UK charts, and also performed well on import in the US. Wobble has stated that the first PiL album was recorded so quickly due in part to the bassist's altercations with a sound engineer and men at a nearby pub. He has, however, dismissed claims accusing him of extreme malice, such as setting fire to the former drummer for The Fall, Karl Burns, while Burns was session drumming for PiL.
Wobble co-wrote and contributed bass and drums to PiL's second album Metal Box, which was released in 1979. However, he grew increasingly frustrated by the lacklustre creative atmosphere in the band, which he felt stifled his artistic ambitions and PiL's creative potential. Besides differences in artistic vision, further conflicts were brought on in part by heavy drug and alcohol abuse in the band. Wobble then recorded his debut album The Legend Lives On... Jah Wobble in "Betrayal", making unauthorised use of material from Metal Box for which he was summarily fired from PiL in late 1980.
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