Photo by Mike Conway
Slade leader Dave Hill (above right) performing in Frankfurt with Noddy Holder, dons silver thighboots and silver pants and sprays his face and hair with silver glitter for their concerts.
New look on the rock scene
What's come over the rock music scene?
The avant garde political consciousness of the 70's has swung toward women's and gay liberation and it now appears that the music world is following that trend.
Helen Reddy had a huge hit with "I Am Woman" which women libbers have embraced as their battle hymn; while rock stars Alice Cooper, Gary Glitter, Johnny Winter and the Slade group are employing elements of homosexuality in their acts.
Garish makeup and near-drag costumes give a bizarre theatricality to their on-stage presentations, providing new shock values for musical enthusiasts.
Does it all mean that music is becoming a secondary aspect of performing?
"No" says Dave Hill, 21 year old leader of the British rock group Slade.
The current crop of stars is as concerned about musical artistry as earlier groups, Hill said during an interview in Frankfurt.
"But you see man, the people demand good entertainment," he said, "and we're here to deliver the goods. We feel that what we're doing is real excitement... we've got to get on with the times."
As a result of their wild shows and brisk selling discs, Slade has emerged as one of the hottest new attractions on the concert circuit.
During a recent Frankfurt show, Slade wowed the crowds. The German and American fans paid them a rare tribute when, shortly after their opening number, the audience gave the performers a standing ovation that lasted throughout the two hour concert.
Slade consists of Hill, who plays lead guitar; Noddy Holder, 22, vocalist and rhythm guitarist; Jim Lea, 20, bass guitarist who doubles on the organ, piano and violin, and drummer Don Powell, 22.
Neither their gimmicky attire or volume could muzzle the quartets ability. Slade generated excitement and electricity as they beat out their hits "Gudbuy T'Jane," "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," and "Cum on Feel the Noize." (Hill said the misspellings are all part of the groups commercial build-up.)
Slade's story began in 1969 when Hill and Powell formed a rock group called In Betweens, which kicked around London playing small clubs for small wages.
"We had a heavy set singer with a big voice who was too lazy to turn up for rehearsals." Hill said. "So we fired him and found Noddy to fill in. Later we hired Jim as our bass man."
However, their luck wasn't so good. In an effort to be different from hundreds of other groups, they cut their hair short and sported a new handle, Ambrose Slade.
"We were hoping to generate some publicity, but the publicity we did get wasn't favorable," Hill said. "But we learned a lot in those years."
During the summer of 1970, Chas Chandler, a former bass man for the Animals and ex-manager of the late Jimi Hendrix, happened on the scene. He liked their style and signed them to a contract.
Chandler groomed the group for the big time.
"He was exactly what we needed for a manager," Hill said. "We think of him as more than a manager. He's the fifth member of Slade."
First Chandler shortened their title to Slade. Then he landed the boys an extended engagement in the Bahamas and this proved to be the making of the group.
In November 1970, Slade cut it's first LP, "Play It Loud." A single released in June 1971, shot to number 11 on the British pop charts. The song was an updating of a Little Richard number, "Get Down and Get With It."
The quartet has now earned six gold albums - each represents individual sales of $1 million or more. "Slayed" and "Slade Alive" are the two most recent LP's.
"We're always trying to come up with music that is fresh and exciting," said Hill.
Despite their far out wardrobe on stage, bachelor Hill assures his fans that he still prefers the company of the opposite sex. "That's all part of the show." he said."
Walt Trott: Staff Writer The Stars & Stripes 25th April 1973 p. 19
America certainly found them interesting enough to talk about in the news although they didn't bother much about accuracy. The Stars & Stripes, European Edition, is a daily 28-page paper printed in Darmstadt, Germany, distributed throughout Europe, unique among the many Department of Defense authorized news outlets, which provides independent news and information to the U.S. military community and their families. It has published a newspaper continuously since World War II maintaining news bureaus in Europe, Pacific and the Middle East to provide first-hand reporting on events in those arenas. The paper is for sale on base, at military exchanges and home delivery for subscribers.
My thanks to Chris Selby for the hard copy.