Ambrose Slade

London, 1st January 1969
Photobucket
"The 'N Betweens are now to be simply called Ambrose Slade"
Express & Star: 12th December 1968

The 1st January 1969 was a milestone in the career of the band. On that day the next 'incarnation' of The 'N Betweens appeared. This time they found themselves recording for Philips. They spent time in the studio on 1st and 2nd of January and put another eight tracks down on tape which consisted of their stage act, cover material and a couple of instrumentals that the band had come up with themselves.
Photobucket
Express & Star: December 19th 1968

The 'N Betweens was a well known name and the changing of it was not well received. For a while they billed themselves as Ambrose Slade (formerly The 'N Betweens), mostly in The Midlands.
Photobucket
Express & Star: 2nd January 1969

They spread their wings as much as possible and continued to visit Scotland on a regular basis.
"I think people up there thought we were a Scottish group. We earned good money there... as much as £50 a night in cash, and we needed that to payoff the HP instalments on all that gear we had,"
Don Powell
Jack Baverstock wanted Ambrose Slade to be the 'Next Big Thing'. A London representative was next on the agenda and Baverstock used his connections. To play at venues where they would get seen by the music press, they needed a London agent.
"Jack said we needed a London agent and he knew a guy called John Gunnell who worked with Robert Stigwood.

Gunnell was in cahoots with Chas Chandler under the Stigwood banner and he brought Chas down to the Fontana studio to meet us and hear the album."
Noddy Holder
John Gunnell was an agent that worked out of London with his brother Rik taking care of many R'n'B acts such as Alan Price, Georgie Fame, Geno Washington, etc. The 'N Betweens had shared the bill with most of them.

Chas Chandler had brought Jimi Hendrix over from America, put a band together, produced two albums in the studio and made him a household name in Britain. He'd also, to a lesser degree, produced a band called Soft Machine.
"I nearly shit a brick, I knew who he was... I think I was the only one in the group who actually knew his track record."
Jim Lea
Chandler was impressed by what he heard and astonished that the group had been working in the studio without a producer to guide them. He wanted to see them perform live and it was arranged by Gunnell that they would perform in Rasputin's the following night. After watching a couple of 45 minute sets Chandler's mind was made up, he wanted to manage them.
"Come down and see for yourself mon . , . Noddy Holder sings like John Lennon and ]im Lea can play a bass guitar a million times better than I could, I should know ... mon."
To the four members of Ambrose Slade, Chandler was a big, brawny, brash Geordie, given to speaking his mind without any thought for diplomacy. He was their kinda man, somebody they could aspire to, respect and understand. Graham Swinnerton sums up the relationship better than anyone.
"They bloody worshipped Chas from the word go,"
In the early months of 1969 Chandler was kicking his heels waiting for another talent to manage and watching over his pregnant wife Lotta. His relationship with Mike ]effrey had broken down but the payoff was handsome and Chas was a wealthy - and respected - figure on the London music scene.
"I was going to take time out to take stock of things. Then John Gunnell told me about this group in the Philips studio... I went to Rasputins to see them. They were like a breath of fresh eayer... Mon."
"There was a certain amount of amateurism about them but the main fault was that they didn't play any of their own material. I liked the arrangements they did of other people's material and I thought that if they could do that, they must be able to write as well. I made up my mind to manage them that night."
Such was the speed of Chandler's resolution that he became their manager within 48 hours. The small matter of Anita Anderson's Wolverhampton agency was settled for £100 (or £300 in Holder's book) and Chandler instantly made his presence felt in Jack Baverstock's office at Philips records.
"I just told them I'd be producing the group from now on and they were very pleased ... remember I'd just produced three of the biggest albums of all time, mon. I arranged a royalty for myself without taking anything away from the royalty that the group already had."
Under ChandIer's guidance a sharp degree of professionalism was instilled into the group now known as Ambrose Slade. Swin was invited to become their full time tour manager and he left his job at Woden Transformers in Bilston for the £18 a week that Chandler offered.

His main, overiding concern was that the group should write their own material. He was unhappy with the album they recorded at Philips which was hastily issued on their Fontana label in early May under the title of Beginnings and there is evidence
--># to suggest that he tried in vain to stop its release. Fontana also issued a single, Genesis, from the album during 1969 but did not came anywhere close to scraping the charts. Progress on writing their own material was painfully slow.
"They didn't take me seriously at first. It wasn't until a rehearsal at Studio 51 in London that they realised how serious I was. They'd been back home for two weeks supposedly writing new material and when they came down to London they had two songs. I told them to go away and write five songs that night. I had to make the point"
Chas Chandler
"In those days we were all having a bash at writing. Don used to write with Jim. and Nod with me , .. it wasn't for some time' until Jim and Nod came together as the main writers. We all used to throw in ideas." Dave Hill
"Chas told us we had to start writing our own stuff and we were worried that he might drop us if we didn't. We'd have done anything to avoid that happening. That was what inspired us to write."
Noddy Holder
Ambrose Slade wrote four of the tracks on Beginnings, two were published by Ashton Music and two by Flamingo Music. By the end of the year Chandler had formed a partnership with Robert Stigwood, which they called Montgrove Productions, to represent their new talent.

The group released the Beginnings album on Fontana, gained a new agent in John Gunnell and a new manager in Chas Chandler. Being on the Gunnell's rosta of artists would have opened many doors for the group , on the London scene in particular, and while Beginnings did not sell too well, it did prove the versatility of the group.
"Jack wanted us to record an album of our own stuff. That was going to prove quite difficult since we were not writing much stuff at all.

It was only after
Chas took us on and made me realise the importance of writing your own material that we began seriously to write numbers."
Jim Lea
Chas told them all: agents, writers, disc-jockeys, PR's, other musicians, promoters and probably his local publican. He was their personal trumpet as well as their guiding light, they trusted him implicitly.

In the meantime the group continued to work live as often as possible and their bookings were now handled by Roger Forrester at the Stigwood office. They played a wide range of prestigious London venues like the Bag O' Nails, the Red Car Jazz Club, the Marquee, the Temple (the former Flamingo) and the Speakeasy, many of which were owned or managed by Rik Gunnell
"...as Ambrose Slade we produced the single of Genesis and Roach Daddy and the Beginnings album. I suppose that album was the first one made by any Wolverhampton group."
Jim Lea
Photobucket

On Sunday 18th May 1969 they played the Sunday Scene at Aldridge Community Centre, prior to their Summer Tour of the US. They had previously been promised a US tour as The 'N Betweens in 1966 which, to my knowledge, failed to happen. This Ambrose Slade US Tour was apparently, imminent but also never happened. It may have been arranged on the strength of Ballzy making sales but Summer seems rather early.
Photobucket
Walsall Observer: Friday 27th June 1969
Chandler's first priority was to get Ambrose Slade seen by as many people as possible. He wanted to raise their profile and expose their talent. They were known in The Midlands but now it was time for the rest of the country to find out about them. One memorable engagement was at Newcastle City Hall where Ambrose Slade supported Amen Corner. a group whose fanatical teeny bopper following were bemused by the comparatively heavy show they put across.
"I remember Chas really encouraging us to get there. He kept telling us that if our van broke down we should hitch a ride.' ... he sensed that it was an important show to do. By that time we had long hair and beads and we were into the progressive look. We were playing places like the Redcar Jazz Club and the Temple Club in Soho ... the hippy underground places. There was a definite pop level and a definite underground leve1 and we belonged to the underground."
Dave Hill
"It wasn’t a tour. It was just one show. It was when we first met Chas and John Gunnell and they got this show in Newcastle City Hall. Amen Corner was THE teeny bop band and they were doing two concerts in one night. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich were on the bill as well. We got booked up for the two shows on that particular night, but driving up to Newcastle from Wolverhampton the car broke down and we missed the first show. We got there for the second show but we didn’t have time to get our own drums out so I used Mick’s from Dave Dee and we only played about four songs, I think?"
Don Powell: Slade Archive 2009

"Amen Corner promoted a gig in Newcastle through Terry 'the pill' Slater, a Newcastle lad. At the time we employed him as a manager of Amen Corner. He encouraged us to book Ambrose Slade as support act. We agreed, great band, good choice."
Clive Taylor, Amen Corner

Photobucket
Disc: July 12th 1969
Their sets still relied on a curious amalgam of cover versions with an increasingly large proportion of self-penned material. Jim Lea occasionally lent his bass guitar to Dave Hill and played violin on an arrangement of The Beatles' Martha My Dear and a slow original called Pity The Mother. Then they'd switch back instruments for Ted Nugent's Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind and a raucous version of Born To Be Wild complete with police sirens fed through their PA system by Swin.
What set them apart from other groups was their affable showmanship and the volume at which they played. By now they were using double amps on top of massive WEM speakers that were so tall, Dave Hill needed a chair to reach his amp.
"We had great piles of equipment, speakers piled on top of each other:' says Jim Lea. "Dave is small and he sometimes couldn't reach the volume control on his amp ... it was too high on top of the two Vox speaker cabinets he had."
“We were terrifyingly loud, nobody slept or walked out on our act. We pinned audiences to the wall with, what Johnny Steel used to call our ‘G’ force.”
Jim Lea

“It were loud tonight mon, the ‘G’ force was forcing back the skin on my face. Mind yoos, I was at the back of the hall.”
Johnny Steel, Ex- Animals

“We had this attitude that the kids took in those days. If it’s too loud then your too old. When Nod joined he was playing lead guitar and I played bass as if it were lead. Dave opened up and we had three strikers up front. We created a solid wall of sound in front of us and Don provided the wall behind us. Every time we went on stage we would make it an event.”
Jim Lea
Photobucket
Photobucket
The summer of 1969 saw Ambrose Slade , drop the Ambrose and they became The Slade, probably in an attempt to lose the psychedelic image they'd had. They were still gigging as Ambrose Slade after this date, probably due to prearranged commitments.


divider

Media supplied by Chris Selby, the man, the myth, the legend. #So sayeth 'Feel The Noize' by Chris Charlesworth from whence much of this section was taken. Thanks due to 'Marmalade Skies' for helping me look in the right direction, another essential site to be preserved.


Ambrose Slade Known Gigs

1969

01/01/1969 Studio sessions for 'Beginnings'
03/01/1969 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
04/01/1969 Belfry, Sutton Coldfield
05/01/1969 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
06/01/1969 Memorial Club.Brownhill
07/01/1969 The Caves, Walsall
08/01/1969 Holland
09/01/1969 Holland
10/01/1969 Quarry Club, Gornal
11/01/1969 400 Club, Torquay
12/01/1969 The Oasis Club, Wolverhampton
13/01/1969 Highfields Club, Stafford
(With Light Fantastic)
14/01/1969 T.V.Recording, Elstree
15/01/1969 Mackadown Club, Birmingham
16/01/1969 Scotland
17/01/1969 Scotland
18/01/1969 Scotland
19/01/1969 TheShip & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
(With Evolution)
20/01/1969 Wolves Social Club, Wolverhampton
20/01/1969 The Caves, Walsall
21/01/1969 Hen & Chickens, Langley
22/01/1969 Wednesfield Tube, Wednesfield
23/01/1969 Belfields Restaurant, Dudley
24/01/1969 BlaizesClub, London
25/01/1969 Terry Heaths, Wellington
26/01/1969 Connaught Hotel
27/01/1969 George Hotel, Walsall
(With The Markus Lute Atrraction)
29/01/1969 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
30/01/1969 The 64 Club, Bilston
31/01/1969 Scotch of St James, London
01/02/1969 Le Metro Club, Birmingham
06/02/1969 Castle Hill Discotheque, Dudley
(as The AmbroseSlade)
09/02/1969 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
21/02/1969 Pensnett & Bromley Memorial Club, Pensnett
22/02/1969 Beginnings session complete
03/03/1969 George Hotel.Walsall
(With Heart & Soul)
16/03/1969 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
21/03/1969 Pensnett & Bromley Memorial Club, Pensnett
14/04/1969 West End Working Mans Club, Wolverhampton
15/04/1969
27/04/1969 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
02/05/1969 Genesis/Roach Daddy released
09/05/1969 Beginnings Released
13/05/1969 Maxis Club, Cannock
16/05/1969 George Hotel, Walsall
18/05/1969 Aldridge Community Centre
25/05/1969 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
30/05/1969 The Caves, Wrens Nest Dudley
31/05/1969 The Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
(With Frosty Moses)
02/06/1969 BBC Radio recording for Dave Symonds

06/06/1969 City Hall, Newcastle
(With Amen Corner and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick & Tich)
08/06/1969 BBC Radio ‘Symonds On Sunday’ with Ambrose Slade
09/06/1969 Queen Mary Ballroom, Dudley
13/06/1969 Park Hall Hotel, Wolverhampton
(With The Montanas and Sheiky)
14/06/1969 The Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
With Silvrons)
27/06/1969 George Hotel , Walsall
29/06/1969 The Ship &Rainbow, Wolverhampton
 04/07/1969 Speakeasy
11/07/1969 Polesworth WMC, High St Poleworth
13/07/1969 Alton Towers (Admission 5/-)

(With Marmalade)
18/07/1969 Park Hall Hotel, Wolverhampton
(With Fraser Nash and Sheiky)
27/07/1969 The Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
(The Piltdown Skull)
28/07/1969 BBC Sessions recording for Tony Brandon
01/08/1969 BBC Radio 1 Tony Brandon with Ambrose Slade
01/08/1969 Park Hall Hotel, Wolverhampton
(With The Californians)
11/08/1969 BBC Sessions recording for Tony Brandon
15/08/1969 BBC Radio 1 Tony Brandon with Ambrose Slade
01/09/1969 Park hall Hotel, Wolverhampton
(With Sight & Sound and Barmy Barry)
07/09/1969 Queen Mary Ballroom, Dudley
19/09/1969 The Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
22/09/1969 George Hotel, Walsall
05/10/1969 The Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
19/10/1969 Community Centre, Aldridge
(Their first Skinhead appearance in Walsall)
20/10/1969 George Hotel, Walsall

(With Under Milk Wood)
31/10/1969 The Royal, Tottenham


01/11/1969 Mossley Youth Club, Bloxwich
16/11/1969 Pavilion, Bournemouth
(With TheRoom)
28/11/1969 George Hotel, Walsall

No comments: