In May I posted on Just Backdated a picture of me holding the Sgt Pepper-style poster of Slade that has been produced by David Graham, an überfan of the group who is behind the Slade In England website and FB page. I was among the crowds of people in this pastiche of The Beatles’ most famous LP, behind early and later photographs of Slade, alongside numerous other individuals who had played some part in their success or had a link with them, and happy that the small role I played in their rise to fame and fortune had been recognised. In the meantime all four members of Slade have received copies and been photographed with them, see above – albeit not together.
I have now been asked by Dave to get behind an initiative to overturn the injustice that has seen Slade grievously overlooked in terms of recognition by the music industry. The obvious pitch would have been to get the BRITS Nomination Committee to consider them for a Lifetime Achievement Award but this award was abandoned in 2013 when it became clear that they were running out of nominees. It could be argued that Slade were in good company here as both The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin never got one either, though to the exasperation of many in the music industry the Spice Girls did.*
Asked to come up with another idea I thought of the Ivor Novello Awards, traditionally given to songwriters but also to those who have made an outstanding contribution to British Music, so last week I wrote the following letter to the Ivor Novello Awards Committee, via their website:
Glancing through your archive I cannot help but feel that there has been a gross injustice with regard to the lack of recognition afforded to songwriters Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, and their group Slade. Very few bands in the history of British popular music can boast a run of hits as impressive as Slade. Far and away the most successful chart band of the early Seventies, they chalked up no fewer than 17 consecutive Top Twenty hits, including six Number Ones, between 1971 and 1976, and 39 chart entries in all. Three of their albums also topped the LP charts in an 18 month spell between 1972 and 1974. Their nearest rival was the far more acclaimed Marc Bolan but the chart statistics of T. Rex pale in comparison to those of Slade.
‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, Slade’s rousing 1973 Christmas chart topper, has gone on to become Britain’s best loved Christmas song. I have reason to believe that its earnings through the PRS rival any British song ever.
I should perhaps point out that during the seventies I was on the staff of Melody Maker and in this capacity probably wrote more about Slade than any other music writer. They became my friends – and still are – and in 1983 I was commissioned to write their official biography Feel The Noize, which is now out of print but is generally regarded by fans as their ‘Slade Bible’. These fans – and there are hundreds of them – remain loyal to Slade despite the fact that it is most unlikely they will ever reform. Nevertheless Noddy Holder has become a national treasure, Jim Lea a reclusive but immensely talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Dave Hill a glam rock icon and Don Powell a survivor in the truest sense of the word. They have never been recognised for their contribution to British music and it is high time they were.
Chris Charlesworth, 8 July, 2015
I have yet to get a response from the Ivor Novello awards people, and would urge other Slade fans to follow my example by writing to them via their website (http://theivors.com/contact/). The more fans get behind this initiative the more likely it is to succeed.
* Of course the reason why the Stones and Led Zep never got this award was because they weren’t prepared to perform at the BRITS, while the Spice Girls were. The absurdity of this was highlighted when it became known that Paul McCartney had been offered the award that year (2000) but couldn’t perform – thus creating a situation where it seemed that the SGs were favoured over Macca. BRITS Chairman Paul Conroy was at pains to point out that this did not mean that the Committee deemed the Spice Girls' contribution to music to be of greater merit than that of the former Beatle – but eyebrows were nevertheless raised.