For many, nothing was more exciting than the explosion of glam metal in the 1980s. Glam metal reached mainstream popularity by 1983 although it had been around since the late 1970s. Just short of a whole decade, glam rock was back in a new form, described as combining the flamboyant look of glam rock and playing a power-chord-based heavy metal musical style.
Slade were the most successful glam rock group, by far, in the United Kingdom during the 1970s. A total of 17 top 20 hits, 13 top 10 hits and 6 chart toppers ensured Slade's top rank of the period. Once Glam Rock died, it took a few years for glam to once again make a mark, this time on American soil.
By this point Slade had got back on solid ground after years of performing in small clubs around the UK since the punk uprising.
The first part of the true glam metal explosion was down to Quiet Riot or more so their producer Spencer Proffer who believed lead vocalist Kevin DuBrow sounded a little like Noddy Holder. This led to Proffer getting the band to record Slade's UK chart topper Cum On Feel The Noize. The classic Slade track helped make Quiet Riot's Metal Health album (dedicated to the memory of Randy Rhoads) a number-one hit in the US. The song's success drew huge nationwide attention. Metal Health, released state-side in March 1983, with the help of the popular lead off single (...Noize) sold more than 6 million copies. It could be argued that without Slade, Quiet Riot would never have made it. Two albums were released before Metal Health, although only in Japan.
But it wasn't just Quiet Riot that the song helped, it was the entire glam metal scene. Metal Health is said to have paved the way for a new, stronger commercial viability for heavy metal. Before this explosion, glam metal bands were already releasing albums to only small success.
Mötley Crüe (amidst rumours of being pre-fabricated) released their debut in 1982 which only peaked at #77. Their next album Shout At The Devil, which came, September 26th 1983, a few months after Metal Health, peaked at #17. Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe stated:
Twisted Sister released their debut Under The Blade in 1982 which peaked at #125, their 1984 album Stay Hungry peaked at #15. KISS were suffering by 1981 when their album Music From "The Elder" only peaked at #75, unusual since they became popular in 1975. Their follow up in 1982 titled Creatures of The Night only hit #45. By 1983, the album Lick It Up came out, again months after Metal Health and peaked at#24. The next 3 Kiss albums also peaked in the top 20."Slade was pretty much the only thing metal about glam rock in the 70s."
With this evidence, Metal Health started glam metal's 15 minutes of fame. Allmusic cites numerous bands that were heavily influenced by Slade, many from the glam metal background. Bands such as Kiss, Poison, Mötley Crüe, Wonderboy, Lizzie Grey, Hanoi Rocks, Queen, Quiet Riot, Orbit, Holy Ghost Revival, Kirka, Condo Fucks, Hot Leg, Def Leppard, Mozart, Dokken, Noel Gallagher, Rose Tattoo, The Clash and The New Electrics.
Although Twisted Sister isn't listed, an interesting observation was comparing Slade's final studio album You Boyz Make Big Noize with Twisted Sister's final studio album Love Is For Suckers. Both were released in 1987, Boyz in April and Suckers in August. Twisted Sister's songwriter and lead vocalist Dee Snider makes numerous lines relating to Slade. Firstly, both albums have the same titled track Me and The Boys, although both are different. Secondly, in Twisted Sister's Me and The Boys, there is a particular line: "me and the boys, we make a big noise". The closing track titled Yeah Right has the line: "so stomp your hands and clap your feet". This line is clearly from Slade's 1974 album Old New Borrowed and Blue which was retitled "Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet" in America.Alice Cooper once stated:
"Slade was the coolest band in England. They were the kind of guys that would push your car out of a ditch."
High praise I'm sure from the Coop but I think we know what he means? Kiss, on the other hand, were more likely to push your tour bus into the ditch and set the thing on fire. Kiss were selling platinum albums by the late 70's but Simmons and Stanley sacked the original drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Freahley which lost them a lot of fans. Kiss member's Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley stated Slade as a clear influence. They also stated they simply took the Slade sound and took it to the farthest extreme.
To add to that there are a further two quotes from Simmons:
"Slade was certainly our greatest influence; not only in the crafting of rock songs but also as performers. Before Slade, no one really knew shit about how to make an audience riot. We really got off on that. There would probably never have been us without them and when I look at the greatest hits section by Sweet, or Slade, or any other of my favourite bands, there are TONS of compilation records."
(Interview, Utopia Records website.)
David Coverdale (Whitesnake) spoke of Slade in an interview:
"...whatever happened to bands that rocked liked Slade? Y'know, that no-bullshit, fuck you, in your face, we're bad-as-hell-and-we-know-it kind of band?"
Even when grunge became popular and glam metal died, Slade were still respected.
"...absolutely. Slade! A band that would never bend over."
Kurt Cobain: Nirvana
By the time glam metal exploded, Slade began being shown interest by American labels. Just Slade. No other glam rock bands but Slade. This proved to be a success as Slade scored their first hit in America shortly after with Run Runaway, peaking at #20 whilst the follow up My Oh My peaked at #37. Slade would eventually begin to tour with Ozzy Osbourne around this time until Jim Lea fell ill to Hepatitis and so the tour was cancelled.
Despite the large amount of evidence, Slade are not mentioned when it comes down to this musical event. Who knows if glam metal would have fully surfaced without Quiet Riot's cover of a Slade track? Regardless, there is no doubt that the most successful glam metal bands were influenced by the "God's of glam rock".