Express & Star

Andy Richardson: It’s wrong to ignore the elephant in the Slade room

The email pinged. It was Dave Hill’s PR. The man who no longer plays in a band with Don Powell wanted to talk. Except he wouldn’t talk about why he no longer plays in a band with Don Powell. Which is funny, because Don’s talked about it at length.

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Dave Hill

He told everyone he’d been excommunicated, dropped from the group he’d played in for 50 years via a cold email.

It seemed not unreasonable, therefore, to flag the blindingly obvious to Dave’s people, namely, that he might like to give his side of the story.

The email pinged again. Dave wouldn’t talk about the elephant in the room. He wouldn’t acknowledge it. He wouldn’t squeeze past it in his stack heels and mirrored hat. He wouldn’t drive past it in his £29,000 Yob 1 Rolls Royce – actually, he sold that to a paint company years and years ago. But no elephants. They don’t exist.

The email was politer than that, of course. Dave has an exceptional PR who wrote daintly: “Ahead of next week’s interview, Dave won’t be discussing anything to do with Don, my lovely, just wanted to let you know.”

Talking to Dave without talking about Don would be like interviewing John Lydon and not asking about the Sex Pistols, talking to Tyson Fury without mentioning boxing or interviewing Michael Parkinson and promising not to ask about any of those pesky celebrity interviews he once did. Perhaps we ought to go the whole hog – not elephant – and agree not to talk about Slade, too.

No. That would be a step too far. Dave did want to talk about Slade, the band that no longer features Don Powell for reasons Dave won’t explain. Perhaps we could transfer him to the advertising department instead. Or should we focus on Don’s drum teacher replacement, Alex Bines, who now hits the sticks?

Who knows. It all got a little complicated. Conveying our apologies and excusing ourselves from a walking, talking advert seemed the only sensible course.

The last time we interviewed Noddy Holder he lamented that it was no longer possible to get the four members of Slade in a room.

Egos, squabbles and more had prevented what ought to be friendship in the winter of their years.

It was his biggest regret, that four old mates who’d lived through a whirlwind no longer wanted to communicate.

Though Dave’s refusal to talk about Don provides a window into the world that Super Nod has spoken about. You imagine it would be a pretty tense dressing room if all four had to share.

There are two sides to every story and while Don has made his clear ‘Dave fired me via email, ending a 50-year-friendship, and his narrative about my health is nonsense’, Dave hasn’t responded. Which is a shame. Because there’s been every opportunity to. Both then, when four wheels on Slade’s wagon became one, and now, when the dust has settled and there’s time for a pleasant, convivial chat about his version of events. But no. Having reformed Slade in 1991, Dave and Don are no more. They are just Dave. It’s like Ant with no Dec. Or Dick with no Dom.

Dave, sweetheart, if you’re reading. We’d be more than happy to reminisce about the old times, about Coz I Luv You, Take Me Bak ‘Ome, Mama Weer All Crazee Now, Cum On Feel The Noize, Skweeze Me Pleeze Me, Merry Christmas Everybody and more.

We’ll happily listen to your tales of shows in Germany, Poland, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Spain and France.

You can tell us about hitting the road in 1966, touring throughout Great Britain and Europe and becoming a regular concert attraction. And we’ll delight at your remembrance of joining forces with the former Animals bass guitarist and Jimi Hendrix Experience manager, Chas Chandler.

But, well, it would be wrong to ignore the elephant that is the present line-up.

Noddy, Jim and Don all talk about what went right and what went wrong. We’d be thrilled to hear you do so too. Until then, Thanks For The Memory (Wham Bam Thank You Mam) – or, perhaps, Let’s Call It Quits.

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