January 18, 2011

SLADE: MAY 1973

Noddy Holder, Dave Hill

Slade
Winterland, San Francisco
May 5, 1973

Photos by Dan Cuny

Jim Lea, Noddy Holder, Dave Hill

Slade started out as The 'N Betweens, in Wolverhampton, England, in 1966, with Noddy Holder on vocals and guitar, Dave Hill on lead guitar, Jim Lea on bass, keyboards, and violin, and Don Powell on drums. The 'N Betweens played regularly at venues throughout the Midlands and in other parts of the UK (including London), and recorded a single, "You Better Run," produced by Kim Fowley (an American songwriter who was living in England) and released on Columbia Records.


In 1969, The 'N Betweens became Ambrose Slade, and began to record tracks for an album. The first LP by Ambrose Slade, Beginnings, was released on Fontana Records in April of 1969. At the same time, Chas Chandler, a former member of The Animals and the manager of Jimi Hendrix, assumed the duties of manager and producer for the band. He firmly believed that Ambrose Slade had the potential to make it to the top. Their name soon was shortened from Ambrose Slade to Slade, and at the behest of Chas Chandler, the four musicians had their long hair cut off, briefly taking on the look of skinheads as a means of promoting their music. Their first album as Slade, Play It Loud, was released on Polydor Records in 1970.


Although Play It Loud did not sell in great numbers, it did establish the musical style that later would make Slade famous. Slade let their hair grow long again and finally broke through in November of 1971, when their newest single, "Coz I Luv You," swiftly became a hit in the UK. It was the first in an unbroken string of hit singles from Slade, being followed in 1972 and 1973 by "Look Wot You Dun," "Tak Me Bak 'Ome," "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," "Gudbuy T' Jane," "Cum on Feel the Noize," "Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me," "My Friend Stan," and "Merry Xmas Everybody," all written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea.


When Slade appeared at Winterland in May, 1973, they had fully conquered the UK and were working hard at becoming bigger in the USA. In the UK they had reached fame mainly through their singles, but in the USA, their singles and their current album, Slayed?, had mostly gone unheard. Although they were headliners in their own country, playing to sizable crowds in major venues and frequently being featured on radio and television, they still were generally unknown in America, which meant that they usually opened for other bands. (At Winterland, they were second on the bill, between Humble Pie and Steely Dan.)


Any discussion of glam rock requires a mention of Slade, more as a result of their appearance than their sound. Dave Hill, in particular, gained a reputation for taking the gaudier aspects of glam rock to a cheeky extreme. He always went out of his way to appear as colorful as he could, adorning himself with shiny outfits, platform boots, and plenty of glitter. The other members of Slade were slightly less colorful, but still quite flashy. Their songs, however, were completely down-to-earth: loud, driving, and cheerful, with an impudent tunefulness that was hard to resist.
 







David: I saw Slade twice at Winterland in 1973, on May 5 and October 20. They were very hot in England at the time, with the release of their album, Slayed?, the year before. It had their hits, "Gudbuy T' Jane" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now."

The first time I saw them was with Humble Pie and Steely Dan. I remember not liking Steely Dan. My friends and I even sat down with our backs to the stage during their performance. We jumped up when Slade hit the stage. They were the flashiest band that I had ever seen. Dave Hill had glitter glued to has face and hands, and wore a glittery jumpsuit with the words, SUPER YOB, on his chest. Noddy Holder announced each song and bounced the spotlight off his mirrored top hat, so the light would hit the audience in the face. I thought that was a good effect. I remember getting hit in the eyes with the light a couple of times. They dressed in bright clothes and stomped around in giant platform boots. I could tell that they were enjoying themselves as much as we were enjoying them.

The glitter look seemed trendy to me. I had heard about it being popular in England, but I had my doubts about how well it would be received in the States. David Bowie had experienced a poor turnout in San Francisco the year before. His music, and the music of other glam stars like Marc Bolan, was not popular here at that time. I felt that San Francisco was behind the times when it came to flashy rock bands. The Bay Area was the home of The Grateful Dead and other bands who dressed in old jeans. Slade did go over well with the crowd, mainly due to the hard rock sound that they had perfected playing in clubs all over England.

We waited outside to get autographs after the show. Since Slade were not the last act, I wasn't sure that they would still be around after Humble Pie's performance. I was surprised when the stage door opened and all four popped out, and started down the street toward their hotel. I remember running after them to get their autographs. They were very friendly and seemed to be regular guys off stage.







Gary: Slade was LOUD. I am trying to remember the glam rock fad... Slade, Gary Glitter, David Bowie, T. Rex, maybe Elton John for a moment, early Roxy Music, The Sweet, maybe Queen (maybe not). Were there more? Roy Wood was putting glitter in his hair and his beard, but he wasn't making music for kids. Did someone mention Jobriath? It seemed that the glam rock fad was aimed at the preteen crowd.

Slade was a great band, and more than a fad. They had an interactive act and could really rock. They also were a real funny band. Noddy Holder had his stovepipe hat with mirrors that reflected the spotlights back into the crowd, giving him a tool that he used to mess with people. (Dan's autograph from him, with a drawing of a dog pissing, is a classic.) Dave Hill had a custom made, glittering gold uniform with SUPER YOB on it. Noddy Holder and Dave Hill were the front men. Jim Lea seemed to be the most serious musician of the bunch, but even he jumped around and wore a glittery jacket. He and Don Powell, the drummer, mostly remained in the background, churning out a solid barrage of support for the two front men.

Dave Hill played a mean, stinging lead guitar, and Noddy Holder (in John Lennon style) churned out chunky riffs that were real catchy. Slade really pushed for sing-along audience participation. "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and "Cum on Feel the Noize" were strong rock anthems, like Queen wrote in the later days. Slade had lots of action and jokes, very loose (though tight musically) and fun. And they were LOUD.







Dan: The opening act for this show was Steely Dan, who at the time were just starting out. Slade was the second act, preceding Humble Pie. I was pretty excited to see Slade, as I had their album, Slayed?, and really liked their song, "Mama Weer All Crazee Now." I can remember them hitting the stage. Their stage presence was pretty electrifying, with Dave Hill dressed in a blue/gold spacesuit with winged sleeves and SUPER YOB across his chest. He had glitter on his face, and his very short bangs gave him a distinct look. Noddy Holder had a top hat with mirrors on it, which reflected the spotlight all over the place. He was very 70s glam rock, with plaid pants and suspenders.

They all took the stage like madmen, with Dave Hill jumping off a pedestal, and Jim Lea rocking around the stage. I remember them playing some of the songs from Slayed?, such as "Gudbuy T' Jane" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," with a lot of enthusiasm. They were great to photograph, and one of the more entertaining bands that I saw. I got some good shots of the band, and the memory of that show will definitely be with me for a long time.

Five months later, we saw Slade at Winterland again, and waited at the stage door after their performance. I had brought with me a 5x7 matted photo that I had taken at the previous show, hoping to have the band autograph it for me. One of their roadies saw the photo and took it to them to sign. I was extremely pleased to have it returned with all their signatures. Noddy Holder had drawn a little picture on the mat, which I couldn't make out. When they all came out of the stage door, I asked Noddy what he had drawn. He said, "It's a dog pissing on a tree!" I was a bit taken aback at first, but then I laughed. We got to talk with them for a while, which is always one of the fonder memories that I have from going to those shows.








Michael: I have fond memories of seeing Slade perform at Winterland. I had followed their progress in the copies of the Melody Maker that my grandmother sent to me every week from England, and I was eagerly looking forward to seeing them on stage. Their music was not particularly sophisticated, but it was filled with exuberant melodies, and it conveyed a happy feeling. It was clear that they enjoyed performing.

Steely Dan (an American band who did not interest me at the time, but whose music I later came to enjoy) was a poor fit for that particular show, but having Slade open for Humble Pie, a British band whose music was hard and bluesy, was a good match. Although Slade probably was not known to most of those in the audience at Winterland (in spite of being superstars in the UK), they bounded onto the stage with good cheer and gave their all throughout their performance. They clearly were determined to make a strong impression on the crowd.

Noddy Holder took control of things as soon as he opened his mouth. His voice was so awesomely powerful that he probably did not actually need a microphone to be heard, and his hat, which was covered with small mirrors, was quite eye-catching. Dave Hill, with his glittery appearance and his broad smile, had everyone in a state of open-mouthed wonder. He looked as if he had stepped out of a comic strip. Jim Lea also was an active figure, and Don Powell kept up a relentless beat on his drums.

It must have been strange for Slade, then at the full height of their considerable fame in the UK, to be playing to an American audience that hardly knew them. They never did establish themselves as major performers in the USA, which is unfortunate, because they were one of the great bands of the period, with a strong collection of appealing songs.


More about Slade at David's Rock Scrapbook

Next: The Strawbs

13 comments:

  1. What a cracking set of photos. I look forward to a good read later, as an obsessive fan since 71, I look forward to an American perspective. Thanks for sharing this experience. B-)

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  2. Dave Kemp, Huntingdon, UK.

    Great great photos. So amazing to see these pics and all this info from all those years ago. In the UK we never really heard much about Slade's US performances. All I really remember is seeing a review of the Schaffer Beer Festival gig in NY City in 1975. Great to see that you guys have fond and good memories.

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  3. fantastic write up I really enjoyed reading it & great photos of a band that could bring the house down everywhere they played. Slade is the the definition of Rock 'n' Roll.

    A Brit living in Canada

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  4. Superbe photos ! Merci - Thanks for the beautiful photos and comments - GéGé GOYER slade fans from France since 1972 ! Keep on rockin'.....

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  5. Thanks for sharing these incredible photos, I'll never understand why Slade never cracked it in the US or why they spent so much time trying when they had the whole of Europe and Oz in the palm of their hands. Great times and great memories.

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  6. Soooo jealous. My favorite band and I never got to see them LIVE. They were to open for Ozzy in 83 but canceled due to the fact that Jim Lea got HEPATITS. Were the Winterland shows videotaped? I have the live cd. Thanks for posting.

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  7. Great photos and writeup! As an American (a young american) I will never understand why we were robbed of Slade's brilliance!

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  8. Hi,

    Why not join in the chat about Slade at the forum at www.slayed.co.uk

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  9. Slade were a brilliant band. Wish I had been around in the 1970s to see bands like that. I made a film set in the early 1970s and it uses a glam rock soundtrack.

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  10. Well now in 2012, I still have to say that Slayed? is one of the best party albums ever.

    I was a kid in Australia when this came out, and along with T-Rex, made Glam huge down there. Out of that came AC/DC and, yeah, they dun well.

    But when all is said and done, I find "Play it Loud" is my fav Slade LP.

    cheers guys.

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  11. Slade along with Humble Pie and Boz Skaggs with Stevie Miller sitting(standing) in on Guitar and vocals gave a great performance in Sacramento CA Auditorium in May 1973. A night to remember for sure

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  12. This is my facebook page dedicated to the groups American adventures. https://www.facebook.com/Slade-In-America-451639235024840/

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  13. Excellent photos. Greetings from www.slayed.co.uk

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