Express & Star

Wolverhampton music man behind Slade deal dies aged 76

Noddy Holder has led tributes to the 'Brian Epstein of Wolverhampton'

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Roger Allen has died aged 76

The man who got Slade their first record deal and was dubbed the ‘Brian Epstein of Wolverhampton’ has died aged 76.

Roger Allen died at his home in Perton in the early hours of Saturday from kidney and liver failure.

Described as ‘one of the most influential and flamboyant personalities’ on Wolverhampton’s music scene, Roger managed most of the local bands in the 1960s and 70s and also ran a number of venues in the city.

According to Keith Farley’s oral history of the Wolverhampton group scene of the 1960s, Roger began promoting from his front room in Merridale Street West around 1963.

Roger with Slade frontman Noddy Holder

His first group, the Strollers, developed out of the social club at Courtauld’s - a manufacturer based in Dunstall and Whitmore Reans - and soon he found himself managing the likes of the Black Diamonds, Californians, Finders Keepers, the Montanas, and the ‘N Betweens.

He even briefly looked after Slade, securing them their first ever record deal. Noddy Holder, the Walsall-born frontman of the chart-topping band, has led the tributes to a ‘character round town’.

He told the Express & Star: “He did manage us for a short time in the very late 60s. He was a character, I knew him very well. He was the one that took us down to have an audition with Fontana records with a guy called Jack Baverstock.

“It was Roger who made the introduction, he took us down to London because he knew Jack and we signed with Fontana.

“He managed us for a time then as we began to find a bit of success he passed our contract on to Chas Chandler. He was a stepping stone for our career. Roger might not have managed us for very long but he managed fantastic bands like the Montanas and Californians for years.

Roger with his wife Donabel

“He was a character round town. He was one of those sort of guys that knew everybody. He ran a lot of venues and he ran a lot of Wolverhampton bands and he would put them on at his venues.

“He was a character and an entrepreneur. He gave lots of bands chances and lots of bands got records out because of Roger. He was very lively, he kept his bands working.

“He was a man about town, a colourful character. He was a very generous guy as well, he would buy you a drink at any time. He was a lot of fun, there was never a dull moment with Roger.

“I helped him get out of a few scrapes back in the day. He was always in scrapes, he got himself into trouble but he got himself out of it as well. He had a silver tongue, he could the charm the birds from the trees and the ladies as well.”

Due to his influence over the city’s music scene, Roger was compared to Liverpool’s Brian Epstein - the man who found and managed The Beatles.

Roger in 2015

Jake Elcock, a former bassist in the Montanas, said: “Roger was a big force in the Midlands pop scene in the 60s and 70s. He managed all the top bands and got record contracts for a lot of bands including Slade. He managed everyone and controlled all the venues, he was the Brian Epstein of Wolverhampton - everything revolved around him.

“He was a lovely chap, he could talk to anyone, mix with anyone. He was a big Wolves fans, all the players knew him.”

When asked for stories about Roger, both Noddy and Jake had the same response: “Not that you can print.”

After leaving the Wolverhampton music scene, Roger moved to Tenerife where he became a top timeshare salesman. His role in timeshares led to him travelling across Asia as he visited places like Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. He married his second wife, Donabel Chualim, on November 17 2003.

The pair moved back to Wolverhampton in 2012 but Roger fell ill in 2014 after a charity trip to Indonesia. He was in and out of hospital throughout the rest of his life and died at his Wordsworth Avenue home at 2.51am on Saturday from kidney and liver failure.

His wife, 45-year-old Ms Chualim, said: “He was one of those people. Some people did not understand it but he was very inviting. People would just follow him, he was almost magical. I am a free spirit and Roger is the only one who hypnotised me.”

He leaves behind his wife and two sons. One of his sons, Guy Allen, described Roger as a 'great dad'.

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