The history of Slade


After five years of trying SLADE had hit number one. As the pop music industry reaches its hi-tech but insecure and rather overcrowded middle age, statistics from earlier eras take on truly insurmountable proportions. Did the BEATLES really have 22 top ten hits - including 17 chart toppers - in seven years that followed their chart debut in 1963? Yes they did. And in the decade that followed did SLADE come the closest to emulating that? Yes, they did: 16 top 20 hits between 1971 and 1976 that included six number ones, three number two's and two number three's. No other UK act of the period, not T.REX nor DAVID BOWIE nor ELTON JOHN any other "superstar" act, enjoyed such consistency; nor is such consistency feasible today!!! SLADE are mentioned in a new book "History of the 20th century", the write up goes: " The british pop group SLADE who blazed a new trail with their skilfull manipulation of the media and extensive use of promotional goods. Despite selling twelve million records in a year!"

In the year of 1964 drummer DON POWELL and guitarist DAVE HILL are playing with a band called "Vendors" around the area of Wolverhampton, UK. They play coverversions of popular hits and tape a demo containing songs of The Shadows, The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Platters plus the track "Take your time" written by themselves. This tape is also pressed on vinyl, but they only can afford 12 copies. After a while they change their name and become the N'Betweens, playing Motown, Ska and Beatles-songs.

At a concert in the cityhall of Wolverhampton they meet a band called Steve Brett & The Mavericks. The guitarist of this group is NODDY HOLDER, who also does backing vocals. Don Powell likes Noddy's voice from the first moment on and after the split of the N'Betweens he and Dave ask Noddy (at this time he's working as roadie for a band called Listen featuring Robert Plant!) to join them as singer. In the local newspaper JIMMY LEA reads that the band is looking for a bass-player and he gets the job. In the year of 1966 the new N'Betweensrecord a track called "You better run" (an US-hit for the Young Rascals). Produced by Kim Fowley the single is a minor hit in their home area but does not make it elsewhere in the UK.

In 1969 they do a session for Jack Beaverstock of Philips, who offers them a record deal. Their agreement includes that the band moves to London and changes the name. So the N'Betweens are dead, long live Ambrose Slade.

In a London club called "Rasputin"Chas Chandler, ex-bassplayer of the Animals and ex-manager of Jimmi Hendrix, sees them and offers to take over their management. Chas does not like their first album they did for the Fontana-Label and encourages them to write their own material. In these days the skinhead cult gets pretty negative publicity. Chas decides that Ambrose Slade has to transform to a skinhead band. So the name is again changed to Slade and the skinhead fashion is adopted.

This strategy brings the name Slade to the headlines for the first time, but the sale-figures do not increase. So the skinhead style is given up again. Chas signs Slade to Polydor (as Fontana a sublabel of Philips). The guys let their hair grow long and begin to dress bright and colourful: Glamrock is knocking at their door.

After their album "Play it loud" (produced by Chas) did not make it to the charts they decide to record an old Little Richard song called "Get down and get with it". In the summer of 1971 this track reaches no. 16 of the UK-charts. Powered by their success the band risks to bring out "Coz I luv you", a song written by Noddy and Jim, as next single, which tops the UK-charts in October 1971. Until 1975 they bring out commercialy successful hits including "Mama weer all crazee now", "Cum on feel the noize" and "Merry xmas everybody". Their albums do very well in that period, too.

On the 4. of July 1973 Don has a terrible car accident. His girl-friend Angela Morris dies and Don himself falls into coma. Physically he recovers fast but his memory is badly damaged. Meanwhile Slade do their only ever gig not in the original line-up as Frank Lea (Jim's brother) plays the drums at a concert on The Isle of Man. Don's doctors tell him to join the band again to get over the whole situation.

In 1976 Slade start their next adventure and aim for the US-market. The boyz move to New York and live there for two years. After 200 gigs supporting acts like Aerosmith and Kiss they come to the point of thinking that all their US-efforts were senseless.

Meanwhile the European scene has forgotten Slade. Back from the US the band plays in little clubs again. Especially Dave and Don live from touring as they do not receive any royalties from the Slade-songs. So Dave decides to leave SLADE and hires out his last Rolls Royce as vehicle for marriages.

Chas asks Dave to join in again when Slade is offered the possibility to replace Ozzy Osbourne at the famous Reading Festival in UK. The 24. of August 1980 again marks a turning point in the history of SLADE. The band does a superb gig and leaves 50.000 people absolutely enthusiastic. 1981 they bring out their next studio record "We'll bring the house down" which reaches no. 25 of the UK-album-charts.

In 1984 their album "Take your hands off my power-supply" (in Europe "The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome") cracks the US-charts for the first time ever and reaches no. 33. In England the single "My oh my" hits the no. 2 slot.

In 1987 Slade bring out their last studio album so far, "You boyz make big noize";

1991 Polydor brings out a collection called "Wall of Hits" including two new tracks, "Radio wall of sound" and "Universe".

In 1992 Dave Hill and Don Powell start touring again with Slade II, 1994 their record "Keep on rockin!" is published, which did not bring any commercial success. The new songs of Slade II are written by Dave and Bill Hunt. The band line-up : Dave Hill, Don Powell, Steve Whalley and Trevor Holiday.

In 2002 Slade released the album "Cum On Let's Party". They also released the singles "Take Me Home" and "Some Exercise". The band line-up : Dave Hill, Don Powell, Steve Whalley and Dave Glover. In 2003, Dave Glover were replaced of John Berry. Dave did a great job in Slade and was also a member of the International Slade Mailinglist. Thanks for all the messages Dave!

Jimmy Lea is working as psychotherapist today, but he is still into the music. Rumours says that he is working on a new album (2003), but this is actually rumours that have been around for a while. Noddy Holder is enjoying his life as radio-dj, hobby-cook and father. He have also been working for some TV stations in the UK. He have joined some comedy dramas and also been a host of some TV shows.







Don Powell
December 1983
© Ian Edmundson

 

Jimmy Lea
October 4th 1979
© Ian Edmundson

 

Slade
© Ian Edmundson

 

Still a popular band!
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Slade @ Wembley!
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Last Updated: 13 May, 2007 22:29