THE name Jake Bugg wouldn’t have meant much to music followers at the start of last year. Now the teenager, whose debut album reached No 1, counts his hero Noel Gallagher among his fans. It’s difficult to believe that on the day of the final gig of his massive UK tour he will only be celebrating his 19th birthday, Your Entertainment reports.
The chain of events that catapulted the teenager to the top of the album charts all started with an episode of The Simpsons.
Bugg was aged just 12 when he was captivated by what he heard while watching the animated comedy series.
“It’s all Don McLean’s fault,” he says, referring to the guest star in that particular episode. “I heard his song Vincent, and that started me off.”
Fired with enthusiasm for music, Bugg was given a guitar by his uncle. Two years later, after much practice in his bedroom, he started writing his own songs, some of which feature on his chart-topping album.
“For the first few years I was just learning covers, seeing what chords went with others and how songs went together, then I started writing myself,”
Bugg can’t put his finger exactly on his musical influences, but says there was always music playing at home when he was growing up.
“People seem to think I’m a massive Bob Dylan fan, but I’ve not really listened to him that much, and my parents never did.
“I know his first album, and the famous tracks, like Subterranean Homesick Blues, but not much. It’s a strange comparison.”
A performance at Glastonbury in 2011 on the BBC’s Introducing stage, where unsigned musicians can show off their skills, led to a recording contract with Mercury. Less than a year later, thanks to a performance on Later... With Jools Holland, Bugg had arrived.
“It was all pretty chaotic after that TV appearance,” says Bugg, who is clearly still adjusting to his meteoric rise to fame.
Several of his songs hark back to growing up on a council estate in Clifton, Nottingham, with references to drug use, trouble with the police and generally getting up to no good in car parks of a Friday evening.
He smiles when it’s mentioned, but says his beginnings were no more or less traumatic than anyone else’s.
“It’s been massively exaggerated, I think,” he says. “It was no picnic, but it’s not as bad as some people would have you believe. It’s not easy living on a council estate, it has its bad points as well as good.
“A lot of my songs are about escaping those streets, but it’s not just me, it’s for anyone in a similar situation.”
So far, his songs have taken him all over the place as Noel Gallagher’s support on the European and US legs of his world tour.
Gallagher saw Bugg’s appearance on Later and decided he had to hear more.
The ex-Oasis star trawled YouTube looking for more videos, and decided he wanted Bugg to go on tour with him.
Gallagher recently said he was blown away by Bugg’s natural talent. “He’s from that naturally gifted school of musicians,” he says.
He wasn’t really sure what to expect from the tour’s opening dates. “I’d never been out of the UK before – and now I’ve been to Germany five times, and France three times, plus loads of other places.”
His song Lightning Bolt was played just before the 100m final in the Olympic Stadium and he’s signed up for Reading and Leeds this summer.
Jake plays Southampton Guildhall on Tuesday in the penultimate date of his extensive UK tour.
Tickets are sold out.