It would be hard to imagine Christmas without the cheery sound of Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody! This massive Christmas hit - which sold over one million copies on its initial release in 1973 and has charted annually through every decade since - was the Wolverhampton band's biggest commercial success by far. It sold all over the world - except in the USA where the song is still unknown.

“It was a massive hit,” Slade's lead guitarist Dave Hill agrees, ahead of Slade's pre-Christmas appearance at Oxford's O2 Academy venue. “When we do that Christmas song, no other act can ever follow us - it's that powerful! Except in America. Weirdly, I think for some complex corporate contractual reasons, that song never surfaced there. But we are not complaining! It has been brilliant for us and Noddy (Holder) says it's given him the best pension he could ever have had!”

Dave Hill was Slade's original lead guitarist - he has been with the band since its formation in 1966. Drummer Don Powell is another original member but lead singer Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea left the band in 1992, having grown weary of the constant touring. Dave Hill and Don Powell recruited new musicians to the band - which for a while became Slade II before reverting to the name Slade in 2002. Hill remains on good terms with his former bandmates - especially Noddy Holder, who wrote the foreword to Dave Hill's recent biography, So Here It Is - but no professional reunions of Slade are likely.

Hill's book outlines some of the issues Slade faced over the years. “Despite having six number one hits through the 1970s, a leaner period followed and I faced financial problems through not adjusting my lavish lifestyle,” he recalls. “I didn't have writing credits and my income dropped dramatically so, having a family, I thought about quitting the band. I had to try a few other things. I went into the wedding car business, hiring out my gold-plated Rolls Royce and driving it myself! I enjoyed that, but it didn't make much money. Some other ventures failed, too.

“Then I got a call from Chas Chandler - the original bassist in the Animals - who'd managed Jimi Hendrix and spotted Slade in 1969 before managing us until the 1980s. Chas told us that he had a gap to fill at Reading Festival as Ozzy Osbourne's new band had dropped out. We asked who'd be there and when he mentioned UFO, Def Leppard, Whitesnake etc I worried it might all be a bit too heavy metal for Slade. I thought the fans might laugh us off.

“But Chas convinced us. And we went on stage. The reaction of the 40,000 audience was amazing! Most of our performance was just hits and in mid-set people suddenly started singing 'Merry Christmas....' at us when we weren't even playing. And it was August.... mid-Summer! Just incredible! The crowd went totally wild for us. When we came off stage all the bands and technicians were clapping and slapping us on the back. I'll never forget it! And that was the start of a major comeback for Slade. We started getting more radio airplay and in the next few months we had a big hit - and more followed through the next decade. I am so glad I never left the band!”

At the Oxford show the other musicians in Slade will be vocalist Mal McNulty and ex-Mud bass player John Berry.


Dave Hill's biography So Here It Is has won praise from literary critics. It is published by Cornerstone and is available from Amazon and all good book sellers.














Related Links:

http://www.slade.uk.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slade
https://twitter.com/sladenews
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSladeBand/


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