Jah Wobble was originally called John Wardle. In 1973, he met John Lydon, Sid Vicious and John Grey at Kingsway College in London.Sid originally nicknamed John “Jah Wobble” after a drunken binge. He would also loan John his first bass guitar.
During the Punk Rock heyday of the mid-to-late-1970s, Wardle earned himself a wildman reputation. A long-term obsession with Dub Reggae music led to his fascination with the bass guitar. Combined with the DIY Punk ethos, Wardle embraced Punk and Reggae, and in the process, created his own original Rock/Reggae hybrid.
After learning about his fascination with bass guitar, Lydon asked Wardle to join Public Image Limited (PiL) in early 1978. Wardle’s distinctive low-end bass straight away put PiL on the map and became the backbone of the band’s sound. Their début album, Public Image Limited, included the self-titled first Top 10 hit single.
After two fine albums, including the mighty Metal Box, Jah Wobble became increasingly disillusioned by the music industry and the band politics and split from them halfway through 1980.
After PiL, and before the genre became in vogue, Wardle became a well respected session and solo artist, with a genuine passion for Global Music, in particular from the Eastern hemisphere. Since then he has worked with a totally diverse range of musicians and in many music genres.
In 1986, after a long battle with alcohol, Wardle unexpectedly walked away from the music scene to work for London Transport, but was eventually returned with a revitalized line-up of his Invaders of the Heart band.
During his “second coming”, Wardle finally achieved public notoriety, including a Mercury Music Prize nomination for the critically acclaimed Rising Above Bedlam album and even chart success. After making the top 40 Take Me To God album and its follow-up, Heaven and Earth for Island Records, Jah Wobble turned his back on corporate record company constraints and went back to non-commercial and far more experimental sounds. In 1997 he set up his own record label, 30 Hertz Records.
Wardle’s wild man days are now behind him, and he has become a dedicated family man with an interest in spirituality. In the year 2000 he received a B.A in Music and Philosophy. He regularly reviews books 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 period called Chinese Dub which won the Songlines magazine World Music Award.
In 2008 he also produced a well received radio documentary about old friend Sid Vicious for BBC Radio 3. In 2009 Serpents Tail published his autobiography Memoirs of a Geezer. Since that time Wardle has made the Japanese Dub and Jah Wobble and the Modern Jazz Ensemble album and toured with both groups. In 2011, Wardle collaborated with Julie Campbell (alias LoneLady) in Psychic Life. Their self-titled album was inspired by Post Punk, Disco and Psychogeography, and appeared on Cherry Red Records. Keith Levene, original PiL guitarist, contributed to the album.
In early 2012, Levene and Wobble played a selection of UK clubs as Metal Box in Dub. This was followed by the release of a four-song, EP and an album called Yin & Yang.
Jah Wobble is available for performances as