I’m beyond thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Dave Hill of Slade’s autobiography. I grew up in the glam rock era and loved every minute of it!
Slade’s music and style dominated and defined the 1970s. With six consecutive number one singles they were the UK’s number one group and sold millions of records all over the world. At their peak, Slade enjoyed success and adulation not seen since The Beatles. Now, for the first time, the man whose outlandish costumes, glittering make-up and unmistakable hairstyle made Slade the definitive act of Glam Rock tells his story.
Growing up in a council house in 1950s Wolverhampton, Dave always knew he wanted to be a musician and in the mid-sixties, with Don Powell, founded the band that in 1970 would settle on the name Slade. Their powerful guitar-driven anthems formed the soundtrack for a whole generation, and their Top of the Pops performances, led by their flamboyant, ever-smiling lead guitarist, became legendary.
But So Here It Is reveals that there’s much more to Dave’s life than Top of the Pops and good times. Packed with previously unseen personal photos, the book uncovers surprising family secrets, tells the inside story of the original band’s painful break-up, explores Dave’s battles with depression, his decision to reform Slade and go back on the road and his recovery from the stroke that threatened to cut short his career.
I was nine when Slade (consisting of Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea and Don Powell) shot to fame in 1971 with their first of six number one chart-toppers: Coz I Luv You. I had a brother and sister who were a good bit older than me and so I guess I was a bit precocious pop-music wise as I could listen (not always with their permission) to the singles albums they bought. These included Slade’s. I quicky fell in love with glam rock. Like every other young person in Britain at the time, I’d watched Top of the Pops every week, hoping Slade would be on, and if so, what on earth would Dave Hill be wearing this week!
So it’s been absolutely fascinating to read his autobiography. For all that Dave was the glitzy showman of he band (he used to say “You write it, I’ll sell it!”) with his outlandish, flamboyant outfits, he’s basically a grounded, positive, family man. He had a supporting and loving upbringing, although it wasn’t always an easy one as his mother suffered from mental health issues, something that Dave has been blighted with too. He grew up on a council estate in Wolverhampton, where he continued to live for a while even after he made the big time. He made his own success and worked hard to achieve his lasting fame but sporadic wealth.
The book takes us through Dave’s career, from his early short-lived bands to forming Slade and its enduring legacy. He gives the ups and downs of life as a rock star, and it seems that the downs are the more common: constantly striving to get the next hit, to break into a new market, to keep momentum up. Even if a member is out of action for only a relatively short time because of an accident or illness, something that happened to Slade a few times, that can knock the band off its feet for ages. Slade always managed to bounce back, but it took effort.
Dave recounts how and why the original band split up and reformed with Dave and Don at the helm, but the foreword by Noddy Holder shows that there are no ill feelings. It was the nature of the beast, with all the stresses resulting from such a pressured and exposed career, for bands to reach exploding point. Slade continues to this day, even though Dave had a stroke on stage a few years ago. It speaks volumes about this man’s courage, commitment and strong personality that he’s overcome that and still performs.
The book is absorbing. It’s well written and very lively. Slade rubbed shoulders with all the big names of pop of that era, but there’s no name dropping. If, for example, Elton John wandered into a dressing room where Dave’s sister Carol was waiting for her brother, then that’s included as a fun but relevant snippet, rather than an exercise in showing-off. Carol supplies a few short passages of this book, and that’s a nice touch.
Through this thoroughly entertaining account of the fascinating life that he’s still leading, the author’s down-to-earthness and values of family love and loyalty shine through even more brightly than some of his metallic outfits! Wonderful book by one of pop’s legends. An Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without listening to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ at least twenty times!
About the author
Dave Hill was born in a castle in Devon and moved with his parents to Wolverhampton when he was a year old. As a teenager he taught himself to play guitar and in 1966 formed the band Slade. After the break-up of the original band, Dave eventually re-formed Slade, and twenty-five years later, they are still regularly touring the world, playing to hundreds of thousands of fans. Dave married his wife Jan in 1973, and they have three children and six grandchildren. They still live in Wolverhampton.