Keith Povall

Walsall, 1973

"Imagine a cold winters night in the early 70s. Two teenagers are standing shivering outside a council house in Moxley.  

Outside the house there are two parked cars. A large black 1950s Daimler Conquest limousine and a silver Jensen CV8 with a very distinctive number plate, YOB 1."

"I was one of those shivering teenagers, the other my old school pal, Graham Abbotts, and both of us were huge fans of Slade. The house belonged to the family of Graham Swinnerton (Sweeny) the road manager for the band and I lived in the street which ran parallel to his, in fact our back garden fence touched theirs so we were practically related."

"I knew the band used the Daimler as transport, but we were really excited when we saw Dave Hill’s Jensen parked outside too it just added to our excitement. I dashed up to my room and fished out my 'Slayed' LP and round we trotted for what was a long wait in the cold and dark."
"Eventually, there was some activity, a hall light came on, the front door opened and out into the darkness stepped Dave, Noddy and Jimmy. We nervously approached them and asked if we could have their autographs. I thought Dave was a little stand offish, but Noddy and Jim were upbeat and jokey which brought Dave round a bit and he became friendly too. 
We chatted for a few minutes and Noddy enquired weren't we cold waiting outside in the dark. I said Slade were worth it, he seemed to like that. I was ecstatic, three signatures of the hottest rock band on the UK scene. That was my first encounter with Slade, but the story doesn't end there."
"My first job was working in the sales office at W. Wesson, a steel mill in Bull Lane, Wednesbury. Don Powell’s dad Walter worked in the hot mill. I never met the man, but one thing I do remember was seeing the white Bentley (the one Don had the tragic accident in), parked up on the works car park on many occasions. When Don wasn't in the Midlands, he would loan his dad the car to come to work in."
"Also, Don was one of the first people in the country to take delivery of the newly launched Jaguar XJ12 (this was after the accident). That would also be parked up outside the steel mill, even the company directors didn't have Jaguars.
I used to get on with the hot mill foreman, Captain Jim Painter. He had the Slayed album cover from me and took it to Walter asking him to get it signed by Don. Back it came a day or so later duly signed completing the collection of signatures making my LP a priceless rock artefact. I still have the album, wouldn't part with it for anything."
"I used to walk home from Wesson’s at lunchtime, returning to work at twenty past one so I would be back in the office in time. Most lunchtimes as I was walking back, I would see a familiar face. Noddy Holder driving his dad’s pale green Hillman Avenger as he left Sweeny’s, he would turn right out of Arden Place into our street. He would always give me a grin and a cheery wave. That was the thing about Noddy. His fame and success in the music business never affected him, no flash motors for him they wor necessary!"
"Fast forward about eight years (I was now of drinking age). I would often see Noddy drinking in the Royal Exchange in Bilston, known to the locals as the Trumpet because it was a jazz pub. Noddy always had a kind word for anyone who spoke to him, he’d stand at the bar drinking his bitter and enjoying the music (Sunday lunch in there was a superb session)."
"I still love Slade’s music. I'm sad the band isn't still together, but I saw in a documentary recently Noddy say it’s never going to happen. 
So that’s my own personal Slade story. Oddly, I never saw the band play, but meeting three of them was a high spot of my teenage years, that and having Marc Bolan say 'Hello mate' as he came out of his dressing room at a concert at Wolvo Civic Hall in 1974."

Keith Povall

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