Surrey Occasions speaks to Rick Buckler, drummer with The Jam about his early years growing up in surrey town of Woking.
Woking in 1955 when i was born was pretty run down. It was the start of a big redevelopment period so there were lots of terraced houses like my own being knocked down and demolished. so it was fairly grim. It was a time of constant change. Woking has changed immeasurably over the years. there are so many coffee bars and restaurants now. It didn’t use to be like that, it was quite austere.
I grew up on Church Street which was a long road which pretty much ran from on side of the town centre to the other. There was a big Christ Church in the middle of the road which actually burnt down in the 1960’s and everyone came out of their houses to watch it. It was big news at the time.
There was always somebody to play with as I had two twin brothers. We spent most of our time kicking a football around and riding around on our bikes. At the time Woking Park was a big affair. It had crazy golf and lido and lots of fields to explore and a river running through it. It was a big attraction when the weather was nice.
I went to Goldsworth Primary School which was just around the corner from where I lived. It had a primary, junior school and secondary school, but the secondary school was knocked down, so I ended up going to Sheerwater Comprehensive, which was a big Greater London Council overspill school.
My older brothers were into the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. So I discovered music through them. one of my earliest memories is playing a Scalextric set while my brother was playing a Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles. Whenever I hear that early Beatles album, all i can think of is me scrabbling round on the floor trying to get this car on the racing track.
Because I liked carpentry and wood work I made my first drum kit at school. I couldn’t really afford one and the local music shops only sold sheet music, trumpets and violins. So building my own kit was the quickest way of getting round the problem. I borrowed the bass drum for the kit from Guildford YMCA. I don’t think I ever gave it back.
I wasn’t allowed to have a drum kit at home, so I used to practise either round a friend’s house or at the local church hall or scout hut. I also used to practise on the end of the bed with a pair of sticks, which was great to get your arms going and learn the various drum patterns.
One of the first records I ever bought was an instrumental called ‘Diamonds’ by the Bud Ashton Orchestra. The reason I liked it is that in the middle there was this great drum break. I never wanted to listen to the lyrics, I was always only interested in what the drummer was doing. At the time I was really drawn to progressive rock bands because, as far as I could see, they had the best drummers.
I was with Paul (Weller) for six years before we got signed to Polydor. We got together in 1972 while we were still at secondary school, so we grew up musically together. We spent years doing the rounds at local pubs and clubs. It wasn’t just about learning to play, it was about learning to be on stage. We were mostly a covers band at the time.
My first taste of proper fame came when I walked into a local pub and somebody had put our first single in the City’ on the jukebox. That does give you a buzz, because you know that record is sitting in lots of jukeboxes all over the the place. However when it kept happening I must admit, I did start to find it a bit annoying. As soon you walked in they would put the record on and you would think: “oh no not again.” It’s very sweet, but I have heard it a lot!
I’ve never moved from Surrey and now live in a village called West End near Chobam. I know a lot of people here and I’ve no real desire to move anywhere else. It’s the people that make the place.
Rick Buckler’s autobiography: That’s Entertainment: My life in The Jam (£14.95) is available from all good book shops.