OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 1975
"We're doing everything, sometimes we're topping the bill, some we're supporting, some clubs; we'll play anywhere". Noddy isn't really as desperate as he sounds.
"Actually we've gradually built up an audience here. People will come to see us once, then by word of mouth it'll spread a little bit. I think it'll build on that, this time".
Jimmy: "Yeah, well over here the audiences are older, at least they look older anyway. Beards, moustaches, you know". I tell him that Slade is a college cult in America and he laughs, ' "That's what we tell them in England.
Noddy: "But it's really an excuse for not selling any records here".
Although they've been over here several times before they're still doing some sight seeing. They took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and had some photos taken like any normal tourists. They did sample American Food.
Jimmy: "I had a hamburger, threw that away. I had a cup of coffee, threw that away, had a hot dog too, it was horrible".
Don: "He makes friends easy".
The conversation eventually works itself around to Flame because they obviously like to talk about it, and Noddy explains what is happening with the film here.
"We don't know yet. It's been shown to a few of the business people and it's gotten a good reaction, but we don't know how it's going to be distributed yet. It's down to Chas. We don't know if it's really the sort of thing to give the American public about us when we're starting our career over here you know. In England they can accept us because they know we were, but if they see Flame over here they might think that Flame is us. It's not a film about Slade".
The tour itself began in July and covered the Eastern regions, and the Western regions over America and a few dates in Canada. The tour is expected to last through until the end of November.
In New York they played at the Schaefer Beer Festival in Central Park, the highlight for Slade being the free beer backstage. As Dave said jokingly, "A year's supply of beer, that's what we did it for".
But joking apart, the gig at Central Park was well received by the audience. Although the Flame Album has been in the stores for a few weeks, and now rising steadily up the charts, the majority of the audience obviously had not bought it and consideri ng that no record has been released here over 18 months, they did not recognise many of the songs.
The only ones to which they responded, with recognition were Gudbye T'Jane, Squeeze Me Pleeze Me and Mama Weer all Crazee Now.
But perhaps responded is incorrect. They went totally mad during these numbers. The deliberate, exacting beat of the music physically lifted them out of their chairs, to dance and to stand on chairs clapping.
Slade love New York and the New Yorkers at the concert whole-heartedly loved Slade.
"You know you've been so a rock concert when you've seen Slade" commented a member of the audience as he staggered out of Central Park".
With thanks to Record Mirror and Linda Merinoff.
The scene was a photographers' studio in the West End of London. On one side of the room, posing in front of a black back drop, were Noddy, Dave, Jim and Don.
And watching the photo session from behind the cameras were Stephen and Barbara Megson - two people who have the very important job of designing Slade's stage clothes.
It was Dave Hill, always the most fashion conscious member of the group, who first recommended Stephen and Barbara to the others. He knew they were good, because they'd already designed two things for him - his car and his guitar.
"We first met Dave because my father is the landlord of the 'Trumpet' pub in Wolverhampton which the group have always used", Stephen explained, "I'm not quite sure how we were first introduced, but I designed the colouring of his Rolls Royce for him, the outsides. Two toned gold and ivory, I left the inside as it was because that would have cost too much too change" .
"Then I designed Dave's 'Super Yob' guitar which is all black and silver. I think from then on he started to trust me, I know he always had a hand in designing his own clothes before now but Barbara and I do everything".
When I met Stephen he was wearing a bright yellow T-shirt with the red words 'Flame'across it, Flame of course is the name of the group Slade played in their first film. And the spectacular costumes you may have seen them wearing in that were all designed by Barbara and Stephen, And it is from those designs that Slade clothes may develop in the future because although they hqve a common theme, they're all different.
For example, one set of outfits I saw the group wearing was what looked like prison grey uniforms which rustled as they moved. They were made out of material that seemed at first sight to be rather like dull plastic. But in fact, they had been specially created by Stephen and Barbara from thousands of glass crystals so that a film could be played upon them as the group stood in front of a blank screen. This creates the flam ing affect you'll have seen on the cover of Slade in 'Flame' album, as well as in the film. But although the material was the same for everyone, each member of the group wore a slightly different style. In fact as he was being photographed Don kept complaining that his was the briefest version.
"I don't know how the Red Indians kept warm", he said, "I'm freezing". Stephen will be experimenting with new material much more in future outfits for the group.
"We're only just learning about it", he said. "But it does have it's disadvantages", as Barbara pointed out. "It's terrible stuff to sew, because although it does not look any different from other materials, it's made up of all those tiny glass crystals and the needle keeps breaking after only a few stitches" .
Stephen and Barbara work from a workshop in Birmingham where they first work out all their patterns. "First of all we get an idea", Stephen told me, "it might come from anywhere. Sometimes I can get an idea when I'm reading a book and see a picture and I think that style would adopt to something that we're doing. With the film of course, we had to work from the script and discuss what would be right. But we did think up this original idea of having all the group dressed in the same colours, but in different styles and I think th is may develop on stage with Slade. "We designed sixteen different outfits altogether for the film. We had to have out fits ranging from the moment Flame were first formed through to the end when they were successful. And in fact it took far more skill to think up clothes for the group to wear when they were playing a relatively unsuccessful group than it did for the success scenes at the end. At the start of the film you had to dress them as if you had made a real effort to create an image". Stephen explained, "and in fact it has ended up very much like the Beatles Album 'Sergent Pepper' with all those multicolours, for example Dave is in white and red. Don is in yellow and orange, Noddy wears orange and red and Jimmy yellow and white".
Of course Stephen and Barbara's work isn't all fun, there's a lot of hard work as well, Apart from actually designing the costumes they have to spend hours sewing them together.
Stephen told me that before a big tour they sometimes have to work all night getting things ready. And on a few occasions he's worked very hard getting something finished and then has discovered it's all been in vain. "One time when the group were to appear on 'Top of the Pops"', he told me, "I was asked to design something specially for Noddy. It was an unusual outfit which might sound simple but took a lot of work.
"Basically it was a pair of white dungarees with rivers and sunrises on the trousers. They were little drawings made out of thread, and they took hours to do. Then came the BBC strike and 'Top of the Pops' was cancelled that week. "Still, there were plenty of opportunities for Noddy to wear it, and it still looks good. That's the really satisfying part of designing - seeing the result of all your work and knowing that it looks good".
(with thanks to JACKIE magazine)