SLADE SLAY THE STATES
SLADE / ELLIS AUDITORIUM, MEMPHIS 28/9/1973
SLADEMANIA is sweeping America. Noddy and the lads from Wolverhampton are jetting through the mid West. Stomping and rocking through Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri....
The kids are freaking out all over the place, and nothing can stop them. not even the chief fire marshal at Memphis, Tennessee.
The chief fire marshal?
Well, he was the guy who nearly put paid to Slade's Memphis gig by arresting Charlie Newnham, Slade's sound mixer, shortly before they were due to go on stage.
His crime? Smoking a cigarette. The fire marshal chose the occasion of Slade's concert to enforce an old regulation against smoking in theatre auditoriums. Result: a hundred Slade fans arrested before the group had even come on, plus poor little Charlie, innocently working away at the mixer board at the back of the theatre cigarette in hand.
The police were reluctant to make the arrests.They were bopping along themselves just beneath the stage enjoying the atmosphere. One of them told me: "We hate doing this, but the fire marshal has called for official assistance."
We realised what had happened when Slade's manager, ex- Animal Chas Chandler, went off to see what the delay was in getting the equipment ready and found Charlie in the arms of the law. Any band less confident and more temperamental than Slade might have been upset by the incident. But not them. They went on stage to give a performance that had the rafters shaking.
When Slade play Cum On Feel The Noize, you really can.
Slade fans in America tend to be older than the average Slade maniac here. But I've also seen some of the teeniest weeny boppers yet. Little tots of 18 months or so.
America is important to Slade. "The first time we came," said Jim lea, "we were at the bottom of the bills, just doing a 20 minute set. The second time, we were beginning to get known, and by the end of the tour, we were at the top of the bill. This time it's fantastic."
Dave Hill added: "America is so different from home. In Britain you can do one Top Of The Pops and everyone knows your face from Lands End to John o' Groats. But here, every state is like a new country. It's so vast. And we're going to keep coming back here until we've comquered the lot."
And so the Slade merry go round whirls on. We left them conquering another new audience in St Louis. Noddy, half kneeling on the stage, swivelling his head so that famous mirrored top hat - which incidentallt travels everywhere in its own special leather box - flashes reflections all over the theatre.
Dave Hill,Super yob himself, strutting about the stage.
Jim Lea, leaping about precariously on top of the amplifiers, gyrating fit to bust his pale blue stage suit. And Don Powell, most of all, on this tour, there is Don Powell....You would never guess from his frenetic performance on drums, that a few weeks ago he was in hospital with serious head injuries after the car crash which killed his girl friend, Angela Morris.
The only clue is that his hands are covered in strips of plaster, because the skin softened up so much during the weeks he lay in hospital. He told me: " The doctor said that the best possible cure for me would be to get back to work and be with the other three again, and he's proved to be right.
"Slade is good medicine"
MARGARET FORWOOD - THE SUN NEWSPAPER 6/10/1973