CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Devon Radio Presenter Judi Spiers interviews the legendary pop group Slade

PUBLISHED: 21:29 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:52 20 February 2013

Slade

Slade

Westcountry Slade<br/><br/><br/><br/>Judi discovers how spelling problems and a penchant for walking through Woolworth in odd clothes lay behind the success of one of the great bands of the '70s <br/><br/><br/><br/>It may surprise you to know...

January 2007


Westcountry Slade



Judi discovers how spelling problems and a penchant for walking through Woolworth in odd clothes lay behind the success of one of the great bands of the '70s



It may surprise you to know that the band that was touted as the Black Country's finest, Slade, the noisiest band to have come out of the '70s, had a 'gert big dollop' of Westcountry in it. It certainly surprised their management when I pointed it out on their recent 'Merry Christmas Everybody Tour', which brought them to Torquay.


Yes, after 30-odd years, Dave Hill, he of the poker-straight pudding basin, stack heels and silver cape with huge golden glitter balls in his ears, had to 'fess up' to his management and to me that he was, in fact, born in Devon, in the South Hams, when his parents moved down here from Stoke.


"I was born in Flete Castle, in a small village just outside Kingsbridge," he proudly announced, so proudly that I didn't like to tell him that Flete, historic as it was and at the time a maternity hospital, was known as Flete House and not Castle.


"I went in search of it, actually, with our drummer Don Powell 'cos I got a card that said Lord Mildmay had owned it and I thought I might inherit it or something. But it's really funny because the guy running it used to make amplifiers for us in the '70s. How weird is that?"


After he was born, his parents got jobs in Wolverhampton and relocated there, and that's where he grew up and eventually formed the band, but he has some very fond memories particularly of Torquay.


"We used to play a place called the 400 Ballroom. We were a five-piece band then and we used to have a rather large singer before Nod joined us. We used to play this club and stay in, I think it was The Beverley Caravan Site, and we'd be in a caravan all together for a week."


Knowing what boys get up to in caravans I thought it best not to ask too many questions, at least not for this publication. However I did want to know how the band got its name, and it turned out to be one of the oddest tales I've ever heard.


"Well, this woman in the record company had a purse called Ambrose and a bag called Slade. 'Sounds a perfect name to me,' said the boss of the record company, but we had a problem because he used to call us Ango Shed or Ambrose somebody and people thought it was Nod's name, so we got rid of it. Our manager, who was to take us to success, (Chas Chandler ex of the Animals and manager of Jimi Hendrix) said: 'Don't like the Ambrose bit. Just call yourselves by Slade,' and that was that."


The clothes came about through the band's desire to be different, as Dave explained.


"I bought this woman's top, you see, from this shop. I know it sounds ridiculous; it was a blouse with a bow and it was yellow. From a distance it looked like a shirt. I put it on in the dressing room and Nod and Jim were laughing at me saying 'you can't possibly go on stage wearing that'. I went on stage anyway and got such a good reaction. I learned that it's all 'make 'em laugh'; it's all sort of old Vaudeville days of entertaining people. Although the music was just as important, the visual appearance of Nod and myself capitalised on the whole thing and made people remember us. I used to go through Woolworth's wearing some strange clothes, and if everyone was looking at me I thought, that's got to be a winner, I'll try that one next."


As for the hair, well, Dave used to cut it himself and then spray it into shape. "But unfortunately Ray Davis (of The Kinks) thought I was wearing a wig, so on Top of the Pops he tried to pull it off. Unfortunately he found out it was real and my manager came in and grabbed hold of him!"


Dave puts the longevity of the band down to the fact that they all learned to work with each other well in the early days. "We were marooned over in the Bahamas. We were sent there as a young band, supposed to be there for a month and were stuck there for three months paying off debts. So we learned how to put up with each other, and when we actually made it, although we weren't going down the pub together and all that, we were always loyal to each other; we had a purpose. We were one of the few bands that didn't have any bust-ups."


The advent of punk rock and New Wave meant that Slade's success faded by the late '70s, and in August 1980 Ozzy Osbourne cancelled their set at Reading Festival at very short notice. Slade, who had all but disbanded, were recommended to replace them, and Dave had to be convinced to play and they 'tore the place apart' - and continue to do so despite Noddy having left the band some time ago.


"It's still worthwhile," Dave told me. "I went to Russia earlier this year, across to Vladivostok and some other unpronounceable places in Siberia, and I met people at the gig who said 'you were a lifeline to us in the days of Communism. We saw you as such a relief, and especially the way you looked. You gave us some hope'."


Good job he didn't listen to the boss at Tarmac then where he worked in an office for three years. "I couldn't spell properly and the guy's going 'there's a future for you here my lad. That rock 'n' roll won't last'."


Well it did, and so did they, and thanks to Dave's spelling and Slade there's a whole generation of us, and 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now'

0 comments

More from People

Fri, 13:13

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Wed, 11:54

In the latest in her series throughout 2018 profiling inspirational women, KATE HASKELL talks to England Women’s Cricket Captain, Heather Knight

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

There is more to Georgia Toffolo than an award-winning TV show, as HOLLY EELLS discovers

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Striving to be the best in the world, homegrown Devon professional squash player Lyell Fuller is seeking sponsorship to help reach his goal. KATE WILLAMS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tavistock Rugby Club in Devon is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £2,500 to fund private showers for referees at their Sandy Park ground, as part of rural energy provider Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Devon’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, also known as The Black Farmer, tells KATE WILLIAMS about his new book, Jeopardy, encouraging the embracing of risk to enrich life

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As five members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton celebrate 125 years of collective volunteering, we look back on their time with the organisation

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Alex Green goes behind the scenes on the Dartington Hall Estate to find a community of artists, makers, farmers, and social entrepreneurs living out the legacy of its founders

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Many people know of award-winning Roly’s Fudge, but do they know how much hard work and business insight goes into making it?

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Topsham businessmen Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay take an ethical stance on eating meat | Photos: Nick Hook

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

As llama love grips the nation, we meet a Dartmoor couple who have spent the last 11 years making them their livelihood | Words: Lydia Tewkesbury

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search