Over the years, when people hear stories about my life, they always say: 'Write it down, Dave!'
So, I've written my autobiography for you, my fans, and for my family, especially my grandkids. I turned seventy this year and for fifty of those years Slade have been a major part of my life. It seems the right time to finally to share my story with you. I've got plenty of funny tales but also some others which show that my life hasn't been all rock 'n' roll.
Most of all, I wanted to tell it as it is, and tell it my way, that's why I'm publishing my book with Unbound.
I was born in castle and then grew up in a council house in Wolverhampton. I had a smashing mum and dad, but things were tough growing up in post war Britain and my life really changed when I heard rock 'n' roll music. I said goodbye to an office job at Tarmac and never looked back. I played in various groups before fame came knocking at my door.
Slade's success didn't happen overnight but boy, were we big when we took off! We had 23 top twenty hits and six number one singles. Three of these went straight to the number one spot - a first, not even matched by The Beatles. Topping it all was 'Merry Xmas Everybody', which sold over one million copies. We also had six smash LPs, and one time had the number one and two spots on the LP chart. All this made Slade the biggest band in the UK in the 70s, and we were massive all over the world, too.
Slade had some great years but fashions change and the break-up of the original band was heartbreaking. I thought that would be it for me.
I battled through depression and got over a stroke, and decided to carry on doing the thing which I do best: I went back on the road with Slade. I've seen more of the world, and more fans, in the last twenty-five years than I did when the band were at their most famous.
Writing my book has been bit like researching an episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' I discovered that my mum and dad had pretended to be married, and even had a false wedding. Also, the burden of having an illegitimate daughter, my half sister, was a shame that nearly drove my mum to suicide. There's quite a few other surprises in my book too. Like the time Carol, my sister, was kidnapped and Jan, my wife, was held hostage in a bank robbery...
I'll always be the boy from Wolverhampton, where I still live, with my wife of over forty years, surrounded by my kids and grandkids. I'm also still Dave Hill, Superyob, rocking the world with Slade!
Influence Many musicians have cited Slade as an influence, including grunge bands Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins, punk and indie pioneers the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Undertones and the Clash, heavy metal acts such as Kiss, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard and Quiet Riot and rock groups including Cheap Trick and Oasis.
In the summer of 1968, we received one of the most bizarre bookings of even our career. It turned out a bit like one of those ‘60s pop group films, only in real life, but looking back at it, it was a bit of a turning point for the band. Without that summer, I don’t know if Slade would ever have been the band and the people that we became.
Our agency, Astra, in Wolverhampton, got an offer for us from a guy called Ken Mallin. He was from Willenhall originally, right on our patch, but now he was living in the Bahamas, on an island called Freeport. Nobody knew how he’d come to be living out there, but anyway, he wanted to book us. Either he’d seen us early on, because we used to rehearse and play a bit in Willenhall, or somebody from back home had told him about us. Either way, he sent a request to our agent to book us at a club on Freeport called Tropicana.
We couldn’t believe it. We’re a bunch of working class lads off council estates and before we’d got the band going, it was a bit exotic to go the other side of Wolverhampton. Now we’re being asked to go to the Bahamas. Seriously, I’d never been on a plane because this was before all the package holidays came in. You’d usually go to Skegness or Rhyl or Tywyn, there was Butlins, Pontins, that was it. Planes were for the posh people.
It all seemed a bit surreal. Slade in the Bahamas? Nowadays, you’d be doing Skype calls or sending emails and all that to check out whether it was straight or not. But back then, a phone call to the Bahamas was £1 a minute, which was a fortune. So we couldn’t call him up to find out if it was all ok, but the agency said it was for real, they were dealing with him by telex because this was even before faxes.
We were still a bit dubious about it, but we went off and saw this old lady who was supposed to be his mom, still living in Willenhall. She said it was all above board, so who were we to argue? Even then, we didn’t really believe any of it until the tickets arrived, and they cost a fortune as well! The offer was that we would have a residency, not earning a lot, but it was the Bahamas so we didn’t mind.Read more...
All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include immediate access to the author's shed.