Back in 1964 drummer Don Powell and guitarist Dave Hill were playing with a band called the "Vendors" around Wolverhampton and the Midlands. They played cover versions of popular hits and taped a demo containing songs by established acts such as The Shadows, The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Platters. The demo also included a track called "Take your time" written by themselves. The tape was pressed onto vinyl but due to a shortage of money they could only afford to have 12 copies made. After a short while they changed their name and became the "N'Betweens", playing Motown, Ska and covers of Beatles songs.
At a concert in the City Hall at Wolverhampton they meet a band called "Steve Brett & the Mavericks". The guitarist of this group is Noddy Holder who also does backing vocals for the group. Don Powell likes Noddy's voice from the first moment of hearing it, and after the split of the N'Betweens he and Dave Hill invite Noddy to join them as lead singer. (At this time Noddy is working as a roadie for a group called "Listen" featuring Robert Plant!!) In the local newspaper Jimmy Lea reads that the band are looking for a bass player and he gets the job. As the "New N'Betweens" they record a track called "You Better Run" in 1966 (a US hit for the "Young Rascals"). The single is a minor hit in their home area but does not make any impression in the UK charts.
In 1969 they do a session for Jack Beaverstock of Philips who then offers them a record deal. Their agreement includes a clause that the band moves to London and change their name. The "N'Betweens" become "Ambrose Slade".
In a London Club called "Rasputin" Chas Chandler, ex bass player of the "Animals" and ex manager of Jimi Hendrix sees them and offers to take over their management, an offer which is accepted. Chas does not like the first album "Beginnings" which they recorded for the Fontana label and encourages them to write their own material. During this period the skinhead cult was getting a lot of publicity (most of it negative) and Chas decides that "Ambrose Slade" need to transform themselves into a skinhead band to get some much needed publicity and press coverage. The band name is changed to "Slade" and the skinhead fashion is adopted.
This strategy brings the name of Slade to the headlines for the first time and the sales figures start to grow. Chas decides to sign Slade to Polydor and they record the album "Play it loud". The album does not make it into the charts so they decide to record an old Little Richard song called "Get down and get with it". In the summer of 1971 this single powers to number 16 in the UK charts giving them their first hit. Encouraged by this success the band decide to let their hair grow and to begin dressing in very bright and outrageous outfits. The age of Glam rock was dawning and Slade were leading the way.
The next single was "Coz I Luv You" which was written by Noddy and Jim and reached number 1 in the charts in October 1971. This was the beginning of five years of total domination of the UK charts for Slade. A string of massive hits followed including the number 1 chart toppers "Look wot you dun", "Mama weer all crazee now", "Cum on feel the noize", "Skweeze me pleeze me" and the perennial "Merry Xmas Everybody". As well as having an iron grip on the singles charts they also achieved domination of the album charts with the number 1 albums "Slayed?", "Sladest" and "Old New Borrowed and Blue". Slade were the most successful band since the Beatles.
This period was not without its drama and tragedy though, and on 04 July 1973 Don had a terrible car accident. His girlfriend Angela Morris is killed and Don himself falls into a deep coma. Don recovers physically but his memory is badly damaged and still troubles him to this day. During this time Slade play their only ever gig without the original line up as Frank Lea (Jims brother) plays drums for them at a concert on the Isle of Man.
In 1976 Slade turned their attention over the Atlantic towards America and decided to try and crack the US market. They moved to New York and lived there for two years, playing 200 gigs supporting acts such as Aerosmith and Kiss but they failed to achieve any success in the US charts and come to the conclusion that they were wasting their time and returned to the UK. On their return they found that the European scene had changed and Slade had been forgotten. They were forced into playing small gigs again to try and re-establish themselves but it was not easy, especially for Dave and Don who relied on money from touring as they did not get any royalties from the songs. Eventually Dave decided to leave Slade and earn a living hiring out his Rolls Royce for weddings and special occasions.
On the 24 August 1980 Slade were offered the chance of playing at the Reading Festival in the Uk due to Ozzy Osbourne dropping out. Dave rejoined them for the gig and they played an outstanding set in front of 50,000 people and stole the show - Slade were back in business again. On the back of this success Slade bring out the album "We'll Bring The House Down" in 1981 which reaches number 25 in the UK album charts.
In November 1983 Slade reached number 2 in the UK charts with the single "My Oh My" and thenin 1984 they released the album "The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome" (in the US "Take Your Hands Off My Power Supply") which reached number 49 in the UK charts and for the first time gave them success in the US charts by reaching number 33.
Although they released several more singles and albums in the period up to 1992 chart success eluded them and Noddy and Jim took the decision to quit and pursue alternative careers. Dave and Don continue to tour with SladeII - enjoying some success on the European circuit. Jim is now a psychotherapist and Noddy is enjoying success as a TV star and DJ. Their legacy as the best live band the UK ever produced will live on forever and one day history will recognize them for what they were - simply the best.