The band was formed in 1966 and was called N’Betweens. The group had formed when two local bands, The Vendors and Steve Brett and the Mavericks joined forces. They played a mixture of soul and rock tracks and had one single called "You Better Run" but it made no impact.
The band changed their name to Ambrose Slade and signed with the Fontana label. Ambrose Slade consisted of Noddy Holder (singer/guitarist); Dave ‘Super Yob” Hill (guitar); Jimmy Lea (bassist); and drummer Don Powell. They proved a very good live band and whether by accident or design often performed in front of rough crowds. Sometimes Noddy would encourage a rumble and when their management was taken over by former Animal Chas Chandler (who had discovered Jimi Hendrix) he suggested they shorten their name to Slade and assume a "skinhead" look with made to measure shirts, Levi jeans, Dr. Martin boots, shaved heads. The boys became an Oi band or suede head outfit. The group began to write their own material and grew their hair long and changed their fan base to the younger glam rockers. In 1971 they recorded a Bobby Marchan song "Get Down And Get With It which went straight to number one and became a big high hit across Europe.
Slade adopted another gimmick and humorously misspelled their song titles. This only infuriated school teachers across the country and their anger only endeared the Wolverhampton group to their fans. Between 1971 and 1974 the band scored 11 Top Five hits five of which topped the UK charts, "Coz I Luv You," "Look Wot You Dun," "Take Me Bak 'Ome," "Mama Weer All Crazee Now."
They band did several tours of the North America at a time when Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were the top attractions, but Slade were thought too English to crack the US market. Back in the UK more hits followed with "Gudbuy t'Jane," "Cum on Feel the Noize," and "Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me."
At the height of their fame Slade made a semi-biographical movie called Slade in Flame (1975) directed by Richard Locraine (The Missionary and Wimbledon).
Although not a box office success it met with critical acclaim. Despite their phenomenal success all over the world Slade failed to impact in the US. They did several tours of the North America at a time when Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were rock giants in the States, but Slade were thought too English to crack the US market. Slade produced arguably some of the best glam rock singles and continued to appear in the UK charts with "My Friend Stan," "Everyday," "Bangin' Man," "Far Far Away," "How Does it Feel," and "In for a Penny."
However musical tastes changed and Glam was replaced with punk and Slade’s hits dried up. One of their last was "Merry Xmas Everybody," a song which has become an evergreen Christmas standard, ensuring Slade are forever associated with the festive season.
Don Powell was involved in a dreadful car accident and lost his long term memory. He made a remarkable recovery and the band played on touring and releasing albums. Slade had a large dedicated following among the older glam rockers and in 1980 they appeared at the Reading Festival as a late replacement for Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz. Dave Hill had left the band but was encouraged to do one more performance. Slade blew the crowd away and in 1981 were back with two giant hits, "We'll Bring the House Down" and "Lock up Your Daughters."
Noddy and the talented Jimmy Lea diversified and tried their luck as producers working with Girl School in 1983.
By 1991, Noddy had had enough and left the band and became a popular DJ on Piccadilly Radio (Manchester), while exploring other options which led to numerous television guest appearances and taping of commercials. Jim(my) Lea decided to retire leaving Don and Dave to carry on as Slade II. In 1993, they toured the world to great acclaim and the band continues to enjoy great popularity on the European retro circuit. The current members of Slade II are John Berry (ex Mud) and Mal McNulty (ex Sweet). In 2020, Powell announced Dave Hill had fired him by email. Undaunted, Don formed Don Powell's Slade to perform Slade songs. In 2007, Jim Lea released his first solo album, Therapy.
Ironically, although Slade failed to impact upon the US market as performers several of their hits were rerecorded by US pop metal bands. In 1978, the Runaways recorded "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," others followed with Quiet Riot "Cum on Feel the Noize" (1983) and Oasis brought out a version of "Cum on feel the noise" in 1996.
Hill D 2017 So Here It Is: The Autobiography Penguin
Holder N 1999 Who's Crazee Now? My Autobiography Ebury Press
Holder N 2014 The World According To Noddy: Life Lessons Learned In and Out of Rock & Roll Constable
Worth a listen:
Get Down And Get With It (1971)
Coz I love you (1971)
Take me back ‘Ome (1972)
Mama weer all crazee now (1972)
Gudbuy to Jane (1972)
Cum on feel the noize (1973)
My friend Stan (1973)
Merry Xmas Everybody (1973)
We’ll bring the house down (1981)