Although The Jam emerged at the same time as punk rock bands such as The Clash, The Damned, and Sex Pistols, The Jam better fitted the mould of the new wave bands who came later, and being from just outside London rather than the city itself, they were never really part of the tightly-knit punk clique. Nonetheless, it was The Clash who emerged as one of the leading early advocates of the band, and were sufficiently impressed by The Jam to take them along as the support act on their White Riot tour of 1977.
The Jam’s first single, “In the City”, took them into the UK Top 40 for the first time in May 1977. Although every subsequent single had a placing within the Top 40, it was not until the band released the political “The Eton Rifles” that they would break into the Top 10, hitting the No. 3 spot in November 1979. The increasing popularity of their blend of Weller’s barbed lyrics with pop melodies eventually led to their first number one single, “Going Underground”, in March 1980.
They became the only band other than the Beatles to perform two songs (“Town Called Malice” and “Precious”) on one edition of Top of the Pops. The Jam even had two singles, “That’s Entertainment” and “Just Who Is the 5 O’Clock Hero?”, reach No. 21 and No. 8 respectively in the UK singles chart despite not even being released as singles in the UK – they got there purely on the strength of the huge number of people buying import sales of the German and Dutch single releases. The Jam still hold the record for the best-selling import-only singles in the UK charts.
As the band’s popularity increased, however, Weller became restless and eager to explore a more soulful, melodic style with a broader instrumentation, and in 1982, Weller announced that The Jam would disband at the end of the year. The announcement came as a shock to Foxton and Buckler, who felt that the band still had many years left. Their final single, “Beat Surrender”, became their fourth UK chart topper, going straight to No. 1 in its first week. Their farewell concerts at Wembley Arena were multiple sell-outs; their final concert took place at the Brighton Centre on 11 December 1982.