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!


Synopsis

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.

My review

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.

 

 

In Through the Withering Storm, author Leif Gregersen bravely describes his descent into mental illness. Takes a lot of courage since as he says in the book, it’s hard to reveal how “I was slipping into a deep cloud of near-desperation and depression.  I didn’t want to admit any weaknesses.” Any family that has been touched by mental illness of any kind knows what a difficult time this can be for everyone concerned, but obviously most of all for the sufferer. Books such as this are so incredibly valuable since they are a ray of hope, a reminder that there is light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, and sharing someone else’s experiences helps keep your own in perspective.

Leif Gregersen describes how the bipolar disorder slowly but surely took a firm grip on him and how he behaved as a result. There are touches of humour in the book, and it’s healthy to be able to recognise the fun moments even though they’re the result of a sinister illness. There’s shocking behaviour too. Generally the author has a very robust attitude to the problems he went through in the past, and I think it’s this clear, no-nonsense retrospective view he gives that highlights how confusing and frightening it must have been at the time .

Drink, depression and despair swamp Leif Gregersen’s life, interspersed with miserable stays at an antiquated mental hospital. However, courage wins through and the author finally emerges from the prison his mind has thrown him in and begins to build a healthy, rewarding life.

There is a real need for books like this one given the widespread occurrence of mental illness. There often isn’t much support from the professionals for the families involved – if any frankly – so ‘from the horse’s mouth’ accounts like Through a Withering Storm are invaluable in the insights they give. They boost you with a new lease of energy to continue supporting and loving through the stormy times.

22042_283509832161_1352577_nAbout the Author: Leif Gregersen

“I grew up somewhat isolated from the harsher forces of the world in St. Albert, a small town just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. Most of my younger years were filled with images of very happy times – trips everywhere from California to Copenhagen, constant school successes and football games in the field near my house that seemed to last forever.

“But all was not okay. There were times when my father would discipline me severely or I would come home to find an ambulance in our backyard taking my mother to the hospital for yet another suicide attempt. Although I knew that depression ran in our family, I had no clue of the fearsome beast that was growing inside me.

“At that time, I was more concerned about my growing collection of comic books, bought with money my sister would give me for doing her dishes or earned as a bean-picker or weed- puller on a farm not far from town. To be able to buy more comics, I even lied about my age to get a paper route and picked up more money by shoveling walks that hadn’t been done on the route.

Somewhere after the end of elementary school, there was a profound shift. It seemed the wind ran out of my sails and the transition to junior high was not a smooth one. I gave up on sports and I began to hate school and the people in it.

The remaining school years became a painful, out-of-control descent into madness. Gripped by mental illness, my thoughts, actions and behaviours became increasingly bizarre. My world became a true life horror movie of growing up mentally ill. Despite delusions, fights, arrests, reprisals and being institutionalized, years were wasted fighting any form of treatment, denying the illness and refusing medications.

Fortunately, for the past 15 years, my life has stabilized. I have accepted treatment and medications. Today, I have steady work and can afford some of the things I only dreamed of before. My computers, my 1994 VW Golf, a decent apartment and, above all, my books. From the age of three, my father exposed me to literature of the highest quality. Today, he is a much kinder, gentler and alcohol-free 72 year-old. I have him to thank for my passion to read and write.

Buy the book

The book is also available here.

Find Leif at www.facebook.com/leif.gregersen

Leif has a website at www.valhallabooks.com where you can find out about his other books and read sample chapters.