Joining PiL at John Lydon’s behest in 1978, the wild man of punk John Wardle was so named ‘JAH WOBBLE‘ by Sid Vicious after a drunken binge, and loaned him his first bass guitar.
A long-term obsession with dub and reggae combined with the D.I.Y. punk ethos led Wardle to create an original rock/reggae hybrid of his own; his distinctive ‘low end’ bass immediately put PiL on the map and became the backbone of the band, and debut album Public Image Limited included the band’s eponymous first Top 10 hit single.
After two magnificent albums, including the mighty Metal Box, Wardle became increasingly disillusioned by the music scene, politics of the band and a reluctance to play live, and eventually split from the band in mid-1980.
Over the past three decades or so, Jah Wobble has ploughed his own furrow as a prolific solo artist, as well as becoming a well-respected session musician, with a genuine passion for Eastern and Global music working with a diverse range of musicians, including Baaba Maal, Bjork, Primal Scream, Brian Eno, Sinead O’Connor, Julianne Regan, Dolores O’Riordan, Holgat Czukay, The Edge and Chaka Demus & Pliers.
Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart released their debut album in 1990 and received a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 1991 for the ‘Rising above bedlam’ album. After the acclaimed ‘Take me to God’ album in 1994, Jah Wobble launched his own 30 Hertz record label which has subsequently released around 40 albums.
Having overcome his alcohol problem in the mid-eighties, Wardle is now a reformed character. His wild man days are now long behind him, and he is now a dedicated family man with a documented interest in spirituality, and in 2000 received a B.A in Music and Philosophy.
Until 2009 he wrote regular book reviews for the Independent on Sunday. Since then he has written book reviews for The Times newspaper. In 2008, accompanied by his wife Zi Lan Liao, he toured with a large group of Chinese performers (‘mask changers’ and dancers as well as musicians).
He also released an album that documented that project called ‘Chinese Dub’ which won the Songlines magazine world Music award. Also in 2008, he made a very well received radio documentary about his old friend Sid Vicious for BBC Radio 3.
In 2009, Serpents Tail published his acclaimed autobiography ‘Memoirs of a Geezer’. Since that time Wardle has made a ‘Japanese Dub’ album and a ‘Jah Wobble and the Modern Jazz Ensemble album. He has toured extensively with both projects. In 2011 he performed Glastonbury.
In 2011, Wobble collaborated with Julie Campbell, alias Warp Records artist LoneLady in a project called Psychic Life. The eponymous debut album Psychic Life was inspired by disco, post-punk and psychogeography, and released by Cherry Red Records on 14 November 2011. The album was well received and the single ‘Tightrope’ and its accompanying video prompted a warm response from critics and punters alike.
In early 2012 Jah Wobble briefly reunited with his old Pil sparring partner Keith Levine to perform ‘Metal Box In Dub’ . They played various european venues as well as Fuji Rock festival in July 2012. This was followed by the release of a four-song, eponymous EP. An album entitled Yin & Yang was released in November 2012.
Wobble has also collaborated with the British ambient group Marconi Union, the results of which were released as an album called Anomic on 30 Hertz records in June 2013. In October 2013, 30 Hertz Records released ‘Odds & Sods & Epilogues’ an illustrated book/CD of Jah Wobble’s poetry.
Can you afford to miss this legend in York? The answer, surely, is no…
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