During the heyday of punk rock in the mid to late 70s, Wobble earned himself the reputation of being something of a thug. Wobble’s original introduction to the bass stemmed from his long-term obsession with dub reggae music. Combined with the D.I.Y. punk ethos, Wobble embraced punk and reggae, and in the process, created an original rock/reggae hybrid of his own.
After discovering his fascination with the bass guitar, Lydon asked Wobble to join Public Image Limited (aka PiL) during the spring of 1978. Wobble’s distinctive ‘low end’ bass immediately put PiL on the map and became the backbone of the band. As John once famously commented, "No one listened to bass in rock music before PiL." The band’s debut album Public Image Limited included the band’s eponymous first Top 10 hit single.
After two magnificent albums, including the mighty Metal Box , Wobble became increasingly disillusioned by the music scene and the politics of the band and their reluctance to play live, and eventually split from the band in mid 1980. Lydon gave his mutual consent, amid bold claims by PiL guitarist Keith Levene that Wobble had deliberately saved PiL material for his debut solo album Betrayal.
After PiL, and before the genre became in vogue, Wobble became a well respected session and solo artist, with a genuine passion for Eastern and Global music. Over the past 24 years he has worked with a diverse range of musicians and music genres, way too many to mention here (see discography for further information).
In 1986, after a long battle with alcohol, Wobble unexpectedly walked away from the music scene to work for London Transport, but was eventually returned with a revitalised line-up of his ‘Invaders of the Heart’ band.
By the 1990s, Wobble finally achieved public notoriety, including chart success and a Mercury Music Prize nomination for his critically acclaimed ‘Rising Above Bedlam’ album. However, after a couple of reasonably commercially successful albums, Wobble fled record company constraints and returned to a more experimental and non-commercial sounding records. In 1997 he started up his own independent record label, ’30 Hertz Records’, and released a series of critically acclaimed records.
Besides his work as a musician and composer, Wobble also writes occasional book reviews for the The Independent. His autobiography, entitled "Memoirs of a Geezer: Music, Life, Mayhem" (Serpent’s Tail books, London), was released in September 2009. to acclaimed reviews.
Following the overwhelming success of his 2008 release, Chinese Dub, Jah Wobble – creatively adventurous music-maker and master of the cross-cultural collaboration – turns his attention to Japan, releasing a ten track album featuring himself alongside Joji Hirota (vocals, taiko drums), Keiko Kitamura (vocals, shamisen, koto), Clive Bell (shakahatchi) and Robin Thompson (hikaritchi, sho, shamisen) as the Nippon Dub Ensemble.
The background to Japanese Dub is best explained by Wobble himself: #For some time I’ve fancied having a crack at merging Japanese music with dub. I was very happy with the Chinese Dub album that I put together a couple of years ago, and was confident that I could do a similar job with Japanese styles. It can’t be denied that traditional Japanese music is heavily influenced by Chinese music. However, paradoxically, there is something unique and unmistakable about Japanese music. To an extent this is due to their distinctive chromatic modes, but above all the Japanese are incredible reductionists. Somehow they take other cultures’ #stuff,’ and in their own respectful way, rationalise it, reduce it, and thereby make it their own.