Friday, 16 December 2016

Slade's Dave Hill on why Merry Xmas Everybody isn't such a hit

Dave Hill with Slade April 1972

It may be their best-selling song, last ever UK No. 1 and the subject of their latest tour but for Slade's Dave Hill raucous seasonal hit Merry Xmas Everybody still doesn't cut it as a favourite.


Perhaps it should come as no surprise that at the age of 70 - and having now fully recovered from a stroke - the veteran guitarist prefers the quieter (acoustic version) of How Does It Feel?

But marking 50 years since the band began touring fans can be assured there will be plenty of their old hits when they take their It’s Christmas Tour to William Aston Hall in Wrexham on Sunday night.

Along with Jim Lea, Don Powell and Noddy Holder, Hill says the flamboyant four piece still love to bash out their tunes.

But it may not have been. Six year's ago he feared he would never perform again after suffering a stoke on stage in front of thousands of people in Germany.

“It was creeping on for two days and I didn't know what it was - I felt sick and I went really dizzy,” he said.
“I went off to Germany thinking I was OK, but when I got there, I got a really bad head.
“I went to write something on a piece of paper and it went a bit funny.

“When I got to the show, which was in front of thousands of people, I was at the side of the stage and the guy handed me my guitar.

“I couldn't press the strings down and I thought my god, I’m in trouble here.

Glam Rock group Slade posing for photographs at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury,Hereford where they are filming their new video in 1986
(L-R, Don Powell, Noddy Holder, Jimmy Lea, Dave Hill)
Glam Rock group Slade posing for photographs at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury,Hereford where they are filming their new video in 1986 (L-R, Don Powell, Noddy Holder, Jimmy Lea, Dave Hill)

“I got on stage and we were all playing, and I didn't know where I was or what was happening. I tried to get through the show but I was wheeled off to hospital.”
Hill was told he had suffered a stoke.
“It was a shock, but I would say music and faith got me through,” he said.
“What hit me hard was the thought it was over for me and I wouldn't perform again. A lot went on in my mind.”
After three months of recovery he was well enough to go back to work.
He added: “When I eventually said yes to a show, I went to Norway and I remember walking on stage and telling the audience I’d had a stroke, but I’m back on the stage and they all clapped me.
“That was really nice.”
Hill, who is currently in the process of writing his autobiography spoke about the excitement of Christmas as a child, which will feature in his book.
“Back in the day, Christmas was a much simpler affair for people living on a council estate growing up in post-war Britain,” he said.
“There was ration books and people didn't have much money but there seemed to be more friendship between folk where I lived.
1970s flamboyant four, Slade
1970s flamboyan

“Christmas is all about surprises and I remember me and my sister would always creep down the stairs and try not to wake mum and dad.

“I remember being really young in bed trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve and I couldn't fall asleep.
“You want to be able to fall asleep to wake up to know the gifts will be under the tree - and that principle never fades away.

“But it’s a different agenda now, it’s very commercial today.”

He also went on to explain how his purpose in life has always been to entertain.

“When I left school and went to work in an office, I was never suited to that,” he said.

“When I told my parents I wanted to go professional, they knew. There was no fixed idea that’s I’d make it, but it was something that I was good at.

“It’s not about trying to be the cleverest person but being good at something you’re good at.”

Hill said following a number of “good memories” in Wales, he is looking forward to returning this weekend.
“The Beatles have the same opinion as us - when you do a show, you want to grab the attention and involve people in the experience.

Slade during rehearsals for the BBC television programme Top of the Pops in 1973.
Slade during rehearsals for the BBC television programme Top of the Pops in 1973.

“Performing live is all about making memories for people and putting on a strong performance in what you play.

“When you hear us we sound better than we do on the record.

“When we’re live, people get a unique performance each night.

“You could come and see us two or three times in a week from different venues and you would experience something different.

“Every night you know its your night and wherever I am, that is the most important night as far as I am concerned.

“People want to experience the joy they felt when they bought our songs and want what effect it had when they were at school.”

And fans attending the gig can expect to hear Hill’s favourite Slade song, How Does it Feel? as an acoustic version.

“It’s no biggest hit and it wasn't number one, but it may be one of the best songs Slade ever wrote.
“It’s great lyrically, it’s very much a song that doesn't date and I know it’s one of Noel Gallagher's favourite songs.

“I remember Ken Bruce from Radio 2 saying this was Slade at their best when we released this song.”
To book tickets to see Slade live on Sunday, December 18, visit the William Aston Hall website .

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