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Jim Lea | Don Powell


Don Powell September 2009 Q&A.

Thanks to Lise Lyng Falkenberg (Don's biographer) for her help with the Q&A.

Q: Walsall Observer: Friday 27th June 1969 wrote: "We're Heavy / Hard Rock - but we also include quieter numbers like Martha My Dear." interjected Don Powell, looking up from his cider." This article refers to Ambrose Slade's first tour with Dave Dee & Amen Corner beginning at Newcastle, where they played to 2,500 people. Does Don recall anything about this "tour" and their time with Amen Corner?

Don: It wasn’t a tour. It was just one show. It was when we first met Chas and John Gunnell and they got this show in Newcastle City Hall. Amen Corner was THE teeny bop band and they were doing two concerts in one night. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich were on the bill as well. We got booked up for the two shows on that particular night, but driving up to Newcastle from Wolverhampton the car broke down and we missed the first show. We got there for the second show but we didn’t have time to get our own drums out so I used Mick’s from Dave Dee and we only played about four songs, I think.

Q: Does Don have any memories of Ambrose Slade (famous as The 'N Betweens) playing Alton Towers on July 13th 1969 with Marmalade (straight from the Hit Parade). ATV Today's Lionel Hampton was the compere.

Don: It was before Alton Towers was a theme park. This gig came up in the grounds of Alton Towers. I remember there was this big, stately home where we could change and Dave was seeing the oldest daughter for quite a while and I had a brief affair with her younger sister. I remember when Dave went to Alton Towers for afternoon tea with the father one time, this small plane comes down and lands on the lawn in front of them. This guy gets out and says, “Hi! I just thought I’d pop in for a cup of tea!” We were a bit out of our league!

Q: Knowing how much Don loves America, I wonder if he has any memories of two particular tours that were advertised? The 'N Betweens American Tour 1966. This tour was due to begin after The 'N Betweens appearance at Walsall Town Hall 24th September 1966? Ambrose Slade US Summer Tour 1969. This one was due to start shortly after their 'Sunday Scene' appearance at Aldridge Community Centre on 18th June 1969.

Don: Those tours never happened. When we played the Bahamas in 1968 there was a possibility of going to Miami, but we didn’t want to as we were ripped off on the Bahamas. So we didn’t get to the US until 1972.

Q: Does Don have any memories of their agent (briefly) John Gunnell? Did they meet Rik Gunnell when playing his clubs and does he have any 'Slade related' memories about those various clubs. Play It Loud is a Montgrove Productions product whereas subsequent recordings (i.e. 7" B-sides) are Barn Productions. Montgrove is Chandler & Robert Stigwood and I assume that Play It Loud was recorded late '69 alongside the skinhead bad press. Would I be correct in assuming that when Wild Winds Are Blowing flopped, Stigwood dropped them and John Gunnell lost interest. Does Don remember how and when Gunnell pulled out on Slade and does he have any tales regarding the band and Robert Stigwood?

Don: When Chas came to see us, he and John Gunnell had the management company together. We used to go to the office in Brook Street where Robert Stigwood’s office was. John was always making fun of us coming from Wolverhampton. He’d say, “Do they have telephones in Wolverhampton?” He was always taking the mickey out of us. And then Chas decided to go on his own. I don’t think we ever met Rik Gunnell. John and Rik were the club-land bosses of London and we played quite a few of their clubs. Tales about Robert Stigwood: there was a charity football match once at a big mansion near Ascot. I don’t know how we got involved in that, because we weren’t part of the football game. I remember Ginger Baker in goal, though, but we just went around in awe of all the opulence. Robert Stigwood, a few of his associates and the Bee Gees were in the mansion and they sort of popped out to wave at us menial at the football. It was like Royalty coming out! Then they went back to the house again. And then there was always something about Robert Stigwood fancying Nod, but I don’t know where that came from!!

Q: What does Don remember about Robert Stigwood and in particular, does he recall why Stigwood dropped out of the Montgrove partnership with Chas. 'The Slade' were included in The Robert Stigwood Organisations Seasons Greetings on the back page of the Record Mirror: 27-12-1969 and Stigwood swiftly washed his hands of them. It's fairly obvious that the skinhead controversy played a part but I would like something kind of 'official-ish' if possible rather than my assumption?

Don: I remember the Montgrove company, but I didn’t know that Stigwood dropped out of it. When Chas decided to be on his own, that was when he moved out of the Robert Stigwood premises and got his own offices. I don’t know if Stigwood didn’t want to have anything to do with Slade. It could have been that way, but we wouldn’t know, as Chas was very good at covering things up. He never told us anything.

Q: It's a long shot, but does Don have any contact at all with Steffan Chandler?
Don: The last time I saw Steffan was at one of Keith Altham’s lunches, but that was some time ago. So no, we don’t keep in contact so to speak.

Q: Can you ask Don if he remembers back in The 'N Betweens days, which arrangement of You Keep Me Hanging On the group used to do. I know the group had different sets for different venues and they performed Motown songs as well as a psychedelic selection. So did they do The Supremes version or the BoxTops/Vanilla Fudge arrangement?
Don: The Supremes version

Q: It would be nice to know if the current band are planning any sort of album.
Don: There is talk about doing one in the new year and it’s a bit more positive this time. Ask Dave!

Q: Would Don like to pick a few songs that he wishes Slade had covered and say why? Thanks.
Don: What I would like would be the Lenny Kravitz song “Are You Gonna Go My Way”. It’s the kind of thing that the old band would have played on stage at the time before Nod and Jim writing. That would have been the kind of song we would have learned. And I’d have loved to play that as a drummer. I can’t think of any other at the moment.

Q: Were there any particular record producers that you would have liked Slade to work with at some stage of their career?
Don: Tony Visconti I would maybe have liked in the 1970s as he used to do all the T. Rex and I loved the sound, but I’m not sure it would have worked for Slade. And I would like actually as a challenge for this guy to have worked with Jimmy Page. I’d like to see what he would have made, working with us.

Q: If you were asked to recommend a definitive Slade studio album to someone discovering the band for the first time, which one would you pick and why?
Don: “Whatever Happened To Slade” because at that particular time we had nothing to lose. And also the “Nobody’s Fools” album which is my favourite. We did that in New York and it was so much fun doing that.

Q: Have you had any contribution to the new BBC sessions album due out soon, with regards to picking tracks and promotion of the album?
Don: Not really. I think the BBC album are the tracks that are there of the ones we did. That’s the tracks that are available.

Q: Who is the most famous person you have ever met? Following on from this, have you ever asked for any celebrities or musician's autograph?
Don: I suppose Paul McCartney. I asked him for his autograph and had his photograph taken with me. It was at Abbey Road Studios at a No. 1 party where everyone who had ever had a No. 1 record was invited. Cameras were forbidden, but the girl I was dating had brought one along and I spoke to Linda McCartney. I remember saying, “Would your husband mind if we had our photo taken together?” And she said, “No. Where’s the camera? I’ll take it.”

Q: Have you ever tried giving up smoking, if so how long did this last for?
Don: I don’t smoke anymore. I haven’t smoked since January 1st 2009. Before that I tried giving up smoking in the 1980s, but back then it only lasted for a few months. Now it is different, because I don’t miss it at all.

Q: Are you doing or have plans to do some acting?
Don: I’d like to do something, but there have been no offers. My name is not around in England any more, but if anything comes up here in Denmark I’d be happy to do it.

Q: Was there an inspiration to writing the lyrics for the songs on Play It Loud, such as Dapple Rose?
Don: Regarding Dapple Rose: I’ve always had a fondness for horses and where I lived with my parents there were some fields over the back and there were always gypsies camping there. They used to have these horses and donkeys and they always looked dead to me. They were not looked after which was sad. As for other songs, for instance I Remember…I don’t remember!!

Q: How pleased are you with the Live at the BBC set? Can you tell us of any memories you have of recording at the BBC in that period? Thanks.
Don: I’m amazed that the BBC still had these tapes and I remember we always had a lot of fun recording there. We would have a three hours session to record and mix five songs. It was so good. I liked the spontaneity of the tracks. But as I said to Jim – I saw Jim a couple of weeks ago – the song “Coloured Rain” means nothing to me! I don’t remember learning it or playing it. It’s so strange!

Don Powell April 2011 Q&A.

Thanks to Lise Lyng Falkenberg (Don's biographer) for her massive help with this Q&A.

Q: I would like to ask Don about 'The Far East' 1973.... what does he remember? Before or after Oz? How many gigs can he recall? Does he remember where they were? Did they play Tokyo?
Were they considered successful? Any pictures from any of the Exotic Gigs? Any pics of the girls down at the 'wash house'

Don: We didn’t go to Japan until 1974 and that was after Australia. We did four gigs; two in Tokyo, one in Osaka and one in Kyoto. The gigs were okay, but we were a bit too late going there. The kettle had gone off the boil at that time, so we should have gone earlier. As for the photos, no nothing like that.

Q: What does Don remember of the Agencies... Astra Agency, Astra Allen Associates, Nita Anderson Agency... and who did The 'N Betweens leave when they joined Astra Allen?
Don: Astra Agency was where we were at the start, with the old bands The Vendors and The ‘N Betweens as well. What happened was that Roger Allen also had an agency in Wolverhampton and he and Astra came together and became the Astra Allen agency. While we were on the Bahamas we never had any help from Astra so when we came back we decided to leave and we went with Nita Anderson.

Q: I.R.A., Face 1 and 2, Aileen and Brin, Skaboo. Who are they Don and what did they do for the band in 1968?
Don: Face 1 and 2 were a couple who used to come and see us. We only played in Wolverhampton, then, and they were always in the crowd. We never spoke to them, so we just called them Face 1 and 2. Brin could be one we used to knock around with in Wolverhampton if that’s the same guy, but Aileen…I have no idea. I don’t know who Skaboo is either. I.R.A. - I got no idea.

Q: Does Don remember this Slade "Abbey Road enactment" photo. It seems to be around '73/4 and apes the Beatles album cover. The 'New Beatles' publicity stunt I guess but when and why. No specific related reason, I doubt it?
Don: I don’t remember doing it at all. We did record at Abbey Road, but that was in 1967. I don’t remember doing the photo.

Q: Back in '67-68 when you were playing the Love classic, She Comes In Colours....
Can you remember who played the woodwind solo. I was wondering if you covered the song straight or did it get the treatment. I imagine Jim could have used the violin for the solo but I can also imagine Dave playing it on lead guitar with Jim and Nod following in unison.

Don: It must have been Dave playing it on lead guitar, as we didn’t feature the violin in such things back then.

Q: Don, when you did the Hamilton concert in New Zealand, what was the schedual of arrival and departure? Did you fly into Auckland Airport then drive down to Hamilton? I'm not certain, but I think Hamilton was not an internation airport at the time. How did you and the equipment get from the Hamilton concert to Sydney concert within 24 hours?..... NZ concert 27 January, Sydney concert 28 January. It would take about 2 hours to drive from Hamilton to Auckland Airport, get through customs, fly 2.5 hours to Sydney, customs, drive to venue and set up. Did you arrive 1 or 2 days before the Auckland concert? Did you do any sight seeing?
Don: Ha-ha, I have no idea of the arrival and departure schedule or how and when we got there! And we didn’t do any sightseeing.

Q: I was wondering if this rings any bells? Quote: "....we used to support JJ Foote at the Three Rabbits in Manor Park, a guest drummer was Don Powell no less...." Do you remember what year this was cos I used to go and watch JJ Foote sometimes. I would have noticed, I'm sure.
Don: I’ve never heard the name JJ Foote before.

Q: There been an e-mail going around saying Slade are not playing Russia again and your all retiring....whats the truth in that or is it just gossip.
Don: That’s not true, ha-ha.

Don: Not as far as I know. I’ve never heard of any extra verses.

Q: When will the "There will be drums" CD be released?
Don: I think the tapes have to be taken out and listen to again before that happens.

Q: What was 'Radio City' in Wolverhampton 1966, it sounds like a pirate station? The 'N Betweens played the first Radio City rave (Blues Ensemble too) in August at the Civic & Wulfrun.
Don: We played at the Civic and Wulfrun all the time, but I don’t remember playing the first Radio City Rave. In fact I’ve never heard of Radio City before.

Q: I saw the band back in Warren, Ohio in the early 70's. Glass Harp opened for you. The concert isn't listed on the tour dates online, but I was there so I know it happened. Is there any way you could: confirm the date? I think that it was 1972. It was a kick a## show in a small town. Perhaps it was a last minute addition to the tour schedule.
Don: I can’t confirm the date, as I don’t remember doing the concert and I didn’t keep diaries back then.

Q: I really like the Something Else Medley and always enjoyed it live. Listened to it on CD again today and wondered why it was included in the live set at the time when there was already a huge catalogue of original single and album material to choose from.
Don: A lot of people have asked us that. In fact it was Freddie Mercury who first said that to us. He couldn’t understand why we did these old rock’n’roll songs when we had such an amazing catalogue of songs. There was no particular reason, it was just a good stage thing to do.

Q: Nylon or wood tips? What was your first drum set (make, colour)? (C'mon, it's like the first girl you kissed, you NEVER forget.) Cymbals? Zildjian, Paiste, Sabian? What kind of gum do you chew? Anything available or do/did you have a preference for something?
Don: I use wood. My first drum set was white Pearl and I use Sabian cymbals. I don’t chew gum anymore, but when I did it was Wrigley.

Q: Original, Spearmint or Juicy Fruit?
Don: Ha-ha-ha! Original!

Q: Hi Don, I've two questions I'm curious about regarding the latter days of Slade. Firstly when the band played the six or so shows on the aborted American tour in early 1984, other than possibly My Oh My did they play live any songs from the then current new album ie Run Runaway, Slam The Hammer Down etc ? Secondly I have seen it mentioned that if the 1985 tour had went ahead that the band had considered using a keyboard player hidden at the side of the stage. Had any keyboard players been thought about or possibly lined up to play with the band on that tour?
Don: We played Run Run Away, but that was all we did really. We wouldn’t have needed a keyboard player. Jim always played the keyboard.

Q: Is it too late to ask Don if he remembers Jet from the Glasgow Apollo? Quote: "I remember Jet Mayfair from the Apollo gigs in the 70's ......Nod would introduce him near the end , and this odd wee man would woddle on , the last time wearing a gold lame jacket , I think........The band seemed to know him really well..."
Don: Yes. He had a plastic guitar and he used to come up and sing with us. He was just some guy who used to come to our gigs in Glasgow.

Q: What has been the highpoint of the last 15 years of Slade? What does Don think of the CD / DVD reissue programme on the whole? Is there any prospect at all of a new Slade album?
Don: That’s a difficult one…but I remember playing the Olympic Stadium in Moscow in 2002 and we met a lot of politicians and dignitaries. That was quite something. I find the CD/DVD reissue fantastic. They did a fantastic job. And I liked that they used photographs that hadn’t been used before. As for a new Slade album we have recorded a few tracks and we are talking about recording more stuff soon.

Don's Q&A answers from DPofficial site on 9 March 2013.

Q.You started playing drums in the scouts but what attracted you to the drums?
A. I don't really know... I think it was the "animal" thing about them. You probably remember the standard Scouts story - that I had to play the bugle before being allowed to play the drums. But I couldn't get any noise out of the bugle - so they eventually put me on to the drums anyway. That's how it all started... and the first drumsticks I used were made out of an artificial Christmas Tree.

Q. Did you have any lesson or were you self taught (by book or by playing along to records)?
A. Well, when I first started playing drums, I thought that I should have lessons. I went to this guy in Wolverhampton called Tony (I can't remember his surname) - I think he played with band's in the 60's in Wolverhampton. I went once, in the early 60's, and I thought it was a total waste of time. I thought what do I want to learn music for, just to play drums? I didn't want to waste any more money - so I left after the first week.

Q. Can you read drum music and do you think it is essential for a new player?
A. No - I can't read drum music. Also, I don't think that it's essential for a new player as it would cramp your style. You would be learning to "play by numbers" (so to speak) and I believe you have to develop your own style. You develop your own style by playing at will. By learning to read drum music - you would end up playing like a parrot... It depends what you want to do, but if I was joining a group - I wouldn't bother.

Q. Who were your early drummer influences?
A. My early drum influences were Buddy Holly's drummer (from The Crickets). I think he was called Jerry Allison. And also D J Fontana (Elvis Presley's drummer). Both of them were my main influences.

Q. Which drummers do you admire and who is you all time favourite?
A. See the answers that I gave the other week (on the webpage "Don's Most Admired Drummers").

Q. Do you still have a practice routine and do you have a practice kit / full kit at home or do you use a studio?
A. I do have a practice kit at home - it's in my walk-in loft. Normally, when we haven't played for a few weeks, and before we go back on the road, I get behind it for a few hours. It's just to loosen up and get prepared for playing live again. My practice kit includes some electric drums that I own.

Q. Do you have a routine to keep in shape for playing drums?
A. I go to a local fitness centre most days. I don't lift weights - but do mainly running to keep in shape. I then go for tea in a local hotel to relax...

Q. What was your first kit and subsequent kits?
A. My very first kit was an Olympic kit, which I borrowed from a kid named Dave Bowdley. He was a friend from my junior school at the time. I borrowed it for such a long time, as he wasn't interested. The first kit that I actually bought myself was a Premier kit.

Q. What is your all time favourite kit and who is your favourite drum maker?
A. At the time we became famous, my favourite kit was the big Ludwig kit I had made by the Ludwig factory in Chicago in 1973. When we first went to America we were supporting Humble Pie. Their drummer was Jerry Shirley, and his drum roadie (when we were actually in Chicago) was going to visit Ludwig. I asked if he could actually take me. He took me and introduced me to Kay, who was Bill Ludwig's personal secretary. She arranged for me to go all around the factory. I met Bill Ludwig (the 1st) - who was actually checking snare drums as they came off the line. I was actually amazed that he personally was doing this.

Q. How did you come to use Ludwig and can you tell us about your relationship / endorsement with them?
A. I answered that mainly in the question before. I was with Ludwig for many years and it was interesting that I got an invite to their 75th Anniversary Party in 1984. They transported 75 Drummers from around the world to Chicago for the weekend. I flew from England. A few weeks before departing they asked all attendees for their suit sizes. They got dinner suits custom made for everyone. They had a photograph done with everyone. At the front was Bill Ludwig (the 2nd), Bill Ludwig (the 3rd) and John Morello. Apart from that I can't remember much else. They were my drinking days and this was a "lost weekend". I know that I was there - because I was in the photograph...


Q. Your chrome kit, was it stainless steel or chrome over wood drums?
A. It was chrome over wood. I liked the idea of a chrome kit, but I tried a few pure chrome kits before I had mine made. I found them a bit "thin" sounding - they didn't have much depth to the sound. When I went to Ludwig they said "why don't you have a plastic chrome finish, over the normal wooden shell - which will give you the depth of sound that you want". And that's what I did.

Q. Was the kit standard sizes or made to your specifications?
A. It was made to my own specifications. It was a 26" by 18" bass drum, a 14" by 12" tom tom, a 14" by 14" tom tom, a 16" by 16" rack tom, a 16" by 18" rack tom and an 18" floor tom. And a 5 1/2" snare drum.

Q. Do you know where the kit is now? Is it in the Hard Rock? Or Jimmy Lea’s Lock up in Wolverhampton?
A. I placed it in the Rock 'n' Roll sale at Sotheby's. It was bought by Hard Rock - but I don't know which cafe it's in. It was a big kit - so I'd like to know which one it's in. They'd need a lot of space...

(UPDATE - DP Official Website thanks Stu Rutter for his email. Stu has confirmed that Sotheby's sold Don's chrome kit in 1988 for £1,500)

Q. How did you come to use Zildjian and can you tell us about your relationship/endorsement with them?
A. Zildjian were always the very best cymbols. Very expensive. They don't give endorsement deals, because they don't need to. Everybody wants them - and everybody will pay good money for them. They are expensive - and they are the best. Maybe Buddy Rich might have got an endorsement deal from them - but not many other drummers would have!

Q. Back to the 75 years celebration in America (can’t remember if it was Ludwig or Zildjan) Don attended. Tell us what it was like/who else was there?
A. Well as I said, Joe Morello was there. Aynsley Dunbar (from Frank Zappa) attended. There was lots of drummers. I remember Roger Pope from Hookfoot too... Basically anyone who was anyone was there!

Q. You now have a relationship with Natal drums, please tell how that came about?
A. Jim Marshall's son approached me and asked if I would like to use Natal. They are modifying a new kit for me - so hopefully I should have that later this year.

Q. What Drum heads do you use now and earlier with the Ludwig Kit?
A. With Ludwig I used the Evans (blue oil skins). I still use the Evans heads - but they are like white velux skins. I use these on all my drums.

Q. Can you tell us more about ‘Let There Be Drums’ session? Why that track, when/where was it recorded, what kit was used?
A. I did some session work with Steve McNerney of the Pleasers. We became friends - and he said "Why don't we record Let There Be Drums" - which is what we did. I've still got the mastertape of the session. It has never been used. It was recorded about 1986/7 at Jona Lewie's studio (the guy who had hits with "Stop The Cavalry" and "You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties"). We are very good friends and he's got a 48 track studio in his house - which is where we recorded it. The kit I used - it was my Ludwig kit.

Q. The ‘Bog Rock’ ("We'll Bring The House Down") drum sound, how was it produced, who’s idea?
A. What happened was we were in Portland Studios and were having trouble trying to get a decent drum sound. I went to the toilet for a wee, and purely by accident I coughed. I heard a natural echo in the room and I thought "I wonder"? I went back to the studio and spoke to Andy (the engineer) in the control room. I said "Do you think we could try the drums down there?" He said that we'd have to wait til after 6 o'clock as the toilets were used by all the office people - and we'd have to wait until they went home. Anyway, after 6 o'clock we put the drums in there and the sound was thunderous. We had just one overhead mic to record the whole kit. We didn't need any close mics. We got half way through a great take and we thought "What's that"?.... The automatic flush went off on the toilets! We had to turn the water off and start all over again. That's basically how that idea came about...

Q. The early drum sound when Chas was producing, did you have much of a say on the drum sound?
A. I didn't really - I was really naive. We hadn't been in the studios much before. The engineer we used on the early sessions with Chas was called George Chkiantz. He worked on "Play It Loud" and basically I did anything that he suggested. If you listen to that sound, they were very dampened drums. I don't think people were too bothered about drums in those days. They just wanted a nice clean drum sound. It wan't til later on that people experimented more with drum sounds.

Q. How was the stomping / clapping sound on the early records produced?
A. That came from the Olympic Studios. With it being an old cinema, they had the staircases round the back. We would put the mics at the bottom of the staircase, and we would stand on the first landing, stamping our feet and clamping our hands. It gave a big echoey sound.

Q. You used brushes on ‘In for a Penny’, did you use brushes in the early days and did he have to re-learn brushes?
A. No, I didn't use brushes. It was sticks, with purely a shuffle on the snare drum. It was the same drum pattern that I used on "Coz I Luv You".

Q. You first started wearing gloves in mid to late 70’s, why, ladies leather gloves if I remember right. Now it seems there are lots of ‘Drumming Gloves’ on the market was Don the pioneer of gloves?
A. I seem to remember that the guy that used to play drums with Elton John in the early days (Nigel Olsson) used to wear gloves. When we were in Australia in 1973, Elton and his band came to our show - and watched from the side of the stage. We then went to their show, and Nigel had gloves on. He said to me after the show "Why don't you use them"? I replied that I thought they would be too thick. He told me to buy ladies gloves and take the lining out. I did this, so that it was basically the leather against my skin. They nowadays actually make gloves for drummers - and where you hold the stick between the thumb and the first and second fingers, they have reinforced pads. Also, I kept getting a rash appear on my fingers where they rubbed against my sticks that had tape on. I saw a doctor in New York for the problem. He recommended that I wear gloves - so I did.

Q. Why did Don put tape around the sticks?
A. What happened was that sometimes when my sticks broke they used to hit me in the face - especially if I was concentrating on the drumming. I would then lose concentration on the song I was playing! So I had the idea that if I put tape round, I could feel that stick had broken and become loose - before it shattered - and I could get a new one. It then just became a trademark.

Q. Are your sticks custom made by Shaw?
A. Yes they are. What happened was that once I was around Bradford, near Cleckheaton (where Shaw are based). I was driving round this housing estate thinking that this couldn't be right... Surely Shaws drumsticks weren't based on a housing estate. So I asked someone. They directed me to the last house on the street. I knocked on the door, and the daughter of the Shaw family answered. She was the Secretary of the company. She invited me in - and in the two sheds in the garden was where William and Mark Shaw were making the drumsticks. Unbelievable! I'd been using the drumsticks for years, I'd never met the family, so I thought I would drop in as I was up that way! Since then company has been bought out by the Music Shipping Company - which Craig Fenney owns. He was the original bass player with Slade II.

Q. What track does Don wish he had drummed on by?
A. Either "One Of These Nights" by The Eagles or "Custard Pie" by Led Zeppelin.

Q. What is his favourite drumming (song) for Slade?
A. "Far Far Away".

Q. What advice does he have for up and coming drummers?
A. Just be dedicated, believe in yourself and keep on trying. Don't ever think that you're not good enough and give up. Keep on trying! Persevere.

Q. Why did you start writing "Bibble Brick" - and do you still have the book?

A. I used to love watching cartoons when I was a kid. I used to sit with my father - and he liked watching cartoons too. At that age I could never understand why sometimes he was laughing at different things to what I was laughing at. I was laughing at the obvious things - and he was laughing at the less obvious jokes with hidden meanings. I thought that I too wanted to write a cartoon that would appeal to adults as well as kids. I still have the book. And now with my biography getting published there might be an opening to get "Bribble Brick" published too.

Q. How did you become friends with Nigel (the drummer) of Lieutenant Pigeon?
A. It was purely because we were on Top Of The Pops at the same time in 1972. They were on with "Mouldy Old Dough" and we were on with "Mama Weer All Crazee Now". We met in the bar afterwards, and we became good mates. Strangely enough I haven't heard from him for a few years now - but we saw each other a lot in the 70's and 80's.

Q. Who are best concert band that you have seen live?
A. That would be a toss up between The Eagles, Queen and Springsteen.

Q. If you recall the Slade 25th Anniversary gig (Walsall Town Hall in 1991). The crowd were clamoring for more songs. Did you, Jim and Dave want to continue and do some more numbers?
A. Nod didn't want to go onstage at all. There were lots of discussions and Malcolm Skellington kept asking Nod, for what seemed like hours, to perform. Nod was adamant that he wouldn't do it. But Malcolm pleaded that there were hundreds of people waiting to see him perform - and under duress, he gave in. Dave, Jim and myself obviously did want to appear. And out of all the songs to play, we decided on "Johnny B Goode", and old rock 'n' roll classic that anyone could play. We were having a good time, but as soon as the song finished, Nod took the guitar off and left the stage. Dave, Jim and me were waiting to carry on....

Q. Will there be a UK Tour again this November and December? If so, can Cambridge be included?
A. I would say yes - because the last tour in 2012, with our old mates Sweet, was absolutely fantastic. Hopefully it can be repeated this year. We played good venues, got great crowds and it was well organised by Flying Music.

Q. Did "Cum On Feel The Noize", "Skweeze Me Pleeze Me" and "My Oh My" reach Gold Disc status in the UK (for 500,000 sales)?
A. Yes they did.

Q. Is it true that you have two British passports?
A. Yes it's true (and perfectly legal). I own one for all trips to Russia - and the other is used for everything else.

Q. Any news on the release date for the Koko Club DVD?
A. Well funny enough yes. I spoke to Dave Hill about it a couple of weeks ago. There was a problem with the filming - the result was that the copy was too dark. With technology it has been able to be lightened. The DVD is now ready to be released. When exactly I don't know - but it should be soon.

Q. When Slade first started you always said you would never move to live in London. What made you change your mind?
A. I met my girlfriend Mari in Japan (1974). After a while she came to England, and she couldn’t live in Wolverhampton. It was while we were filming "Flame" that we found the flat in Hampstead, London. It was easy to get to the West End and easy to get to the M1 to get back to Wolverhampton when I needed to. So that's why I eventually went to London.

Q. Tell me one of your memories of Japan?
A. I’m afraid my memory of Japan is pretty vague as it was my ‘drinking’ days. However, I do remember how fantastic and efficient the Bullit trains were. Also, I recall trying to pay for drinks by signing them to my room account, only to find out, I was in this club, on the other side of Tokyo... I still don’t know how I got back to my hotel!

Questions provided by John Berry, Willy Young, Joe Dasker, Steve Marsh, Mark Cawdery, Sue Wellington, Jaz Trump, The Mixmaster (?) and Stewart Benn.


Ian Edmundson - The recording of Old New Borrowed and Blue... It must have been a really awkward time for you all, following your accident and with H going off on honeymoon. What do you remember about the actual sessions?
Really enjoyed those sessions. We were a lot more loose in the studio.
‘H’ actually went on honeymoon in LA. while I was in hospital after the accident. We were going to LA together…

Slade lightened up a lot at this point and became more of a pop band on record. Do you feel with hindsight that putting out songs like Find yourself a rainbow and My friend Stan was the way you needed to go?
Two strange choices there, Tommy Burton from Bilston actually played piano on ‘Find Yourself A Rainbow’. I was never a fan of ‘My Friend Stan’.

Ian Edmundson - A lot of people compare Slade's career to Status Quo's. Quo have - until we lost Rick - sort of gone along in pretty much a straight line, whereas Slade diversified and changed their musical approach. Do you think that if Slade had remained 'more rock-orientated' in 74 -75, that things would have gone similarly for you?
Quo actually warned about keeping in the ‘TOTP’s. mould. Should have listened really.

Ian Edmundson - 'Whatever happened to Slade' - It has often been said that the album was hugely influenced by your time in America. I can hear bits of Aerosmith in there, maybe. Who were the bands that influenced you? What can you remember about the recording of this very complex and intricate (in part) album?
I suppose it was really influenced by ‘ZZ Top’. J Geils Band’. ‘Elvin Bishop Band’….. Definitely, not Aerosmith….

Ian Edmundson - Radio Wall of sound and Universe and the final B-sides: What can you tell us about these sessions?
Actually it was only Jim on those records, I put drums and percussion on the basic tracks he’d already recorded, The verse part of ‘Wall of Sound’ was too low a key for Nod, that’s why Jim sang those parts.

Ian Edmundson - A lot of people are curious at the mention of a studio recording of RESPECT, which may just have been a run through for sound levels, with the tape running. Is there any prospect of us hearing this at some point?
Wasn’t ‘Respect’ when we were with Kim Fowley? We just recorded songs from our stage show at the time.

Ian Edmundson - Whatever happened to Bibble Brick?
Ha, I was actually with Lise, doing the extra chapter for the paperback version of my Biog. NOW, Lise has already crossed the ‘T’s and dotted the ‘I’s’. Time to look for a publisher.

Hello Don. What was the biggest difference between gigging and recording with QSP and any line up of Slade? Chris
There was a, lot of space, there being only three musicians, although we did add piano and other stuff.

Chris - Hello Don. Thanks for doing this , it really is appreciated.After your car crash in 1973 you seemed to get back to work very quickly , even making an appearance at Brands Hatch using a cane and with your hair partly shaved.
That was the surgeon who looked after me. He said I should get back to work ASAP, or I never will. I felt like ‘shit’ at Brands Hatch….. Olivia Newton-John sat with me most of the time, holding my hand and chatting away.

You have said in your book that inspite of the difficulties you had you wanted to get back to work but how much pressure were you under from management and the rest of the group?
I wasn’t under any pressure…. BUT, it was the best thing I did. It was very difficult though.

With hindsight do you think it was a mistake getting back on the road and back into the studio so quickly? Do you think if you had taken more time off you would have made a quicker and better recovery? What do you think the long term physical affects have been?
That’s the 64000 dollar question, isn’t it.????
In hindsight, I think it was the best thing for me to do, although I felt like shit…

You seem to be more sensible following your recent leg problems. Is this because you are older and wiser or is Hanne keeping you in check?
Ha, Hanne definitely helped me there, making me see sense……

Hi Don. I'd like to ask about the Nobody's Fools period, if I may. Were the songs written in advance of a US stay, or while you were all over there?
Bit of both really. We rehearsed those particular songs in dressing rooms and at ‘sound-checks’.

What was the usual method of Nod and Jim bringing songs to the band?
Just like that really, in the dressing rooms or at soundchecks………..

Did you all jam them out until it sounded how you wanted it, or did they come with a firm idea of how they wanted a song to sound?
They had a basic idea. BUT we all had input for the end project.

Did the band rehearse up the songs with a view to making an album for American radio?

In an unconscious way maybe, as our earlier stuff never sounded right on US radio.

Did the band and Chas ever consider employing a US producer with a track record to work on the album?
No Way would Chas (at that time) have ever agreed to that…

Hi again Don, Regarding the songs that were performed before Play it Loud. I find the Beginnings and Play it loud periods of the band really exciting times and wish I had heard you play pre-success. Can you think of any more songs that the band did way back then, that we may never have heard of you doing?

Here's the list of songs we know of:
Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy - The Tams
"People Get Ready" - Curtis Mayfield
"Reach Out I'll Be There" - The Four Tops
"It's The Same Old Song" - The Four Tops
"I Hear A Symphony" - Diana Ross and The Supremes
"Cherry Cherry" - (Neil Diamond, sung by Jim)
We heard The Move play it at the Marquee Club.
"The Letter" - The Box Tops
"Goin' Back" - Dusty Springfield
"Nights In White Satin" - The Moody Blues
"I Saw Her Last Night" - The Mamas and Papas
"Monday, Monday" - The Mamas and Papas
"Land Of A Thousand Dances" - Chris Kenner
"Green Onions" - Booker T. and The MG's
"Put Yourself In My Place" - The Elgins
"Groovin'" - Young Rascals
"Beggin'" - Timebox
"Respect" - Aretha Franklin featuring (Dave Hill on vocals!!!)
"Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" - The Beatles
"Martha My Dear" - The Beatles
'She comes in colours' - Love
'Sixty minutes of your love' - Homer Banks
"You Keep Me Hanging On" - Diana Ross and The Supremes
"Take a Look " - Irma Thomas
'Theme from Skippy the bush kangaroo'
"Good Old Desk" - Harry Nilsson
"I Take What I Want" (Evil Witchman) - Sam & Dave.
We learned that from the, ‘Artwoods’
'Yellow Bird' - The Brothers Four
"I Can't Help Myself" - Four Tops
"My Girl" - The Temptations
"Put Yourself In My Place" - The Isley Brothers
‘California Dreamin’… Mama’s & Papa’s
‘You Better Run’….. Young Rascals’
‘Gettin’ Better….. Beatles
‘Got To Get You Into My Life’…. Beatles.
‘Baby I Need Your Lovin’….. Four Tops.
‘ ‘To Wait For Love’…… Dave Berry.
‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’….. Temptations.

ColinFoster - How did the band go about writing songs? Did Jim come up with a tune & say to Nod (or Don on occasions) "put some words to that" or did the words come first or did they evolve from "Jams"? If the "tunes" were written by Jim, did he say to Don: "This is the drum beat" & to Dave: "This is the lead line", or did they come up with there own to go along with the tempo/chord structure?
Jim would maybe write a, melody and ask Nod or myself to put lyrics to them. OR, I would write lyrics, have some kind of melody. As I’m tone deaf, it took a long time to get my idea across, Ha… In the early days, most of the time, we would arrange the songs together.

GOYER - Hello Don, do you remember the only fan who was present at the airport "Roissy Paris" 09/01/1984 and the next day the only fan at the hotel, I met you in the corridors of hotel and you took a picture with me, and then I was with the whole group for the pictures at the Eiffel Tower with the official RCA photographer. Since have you been back to Paris as a simple tourist? I wrote an article for the 20th anniversary of Slade (1966-1986) in the French magazine "Juke Box". English, Scottish and Polish fans came to see my record collections and in 1986 I had an article about me in the Evening Mail magazine with my picture taken in 1984 in Paris with Slade. Thank you for all these years Don - Gerard France fan.
I do remember you, Gerard, how are you? I used to spend time in Paris buying antiques….
Nice to hear from you Gerard. We may meet again one day.

Marcus Wright - Hi Don, Many things have been said about the Xmas party album from 1985 by the fans over the years. I personally happen to like that album mainly because I was oblivious to the fact that you were going to do one until I saw it in the shops among the imported albums. It came as a nice surprise to me since you had already released an album that year. What I like most about that album is your playing. Your playing is absolutely awesome on Crackers. It´s loose, spontaneous and hard hitting. Just like you used to play on Play it Loud, and Slade Alive before the car crash. It sounds like you were having a lot of fun on this recording. What is your recollection of these sessions?
The, Xmas Party LP was basically recorded in one day. We just went in and played as we would at a live gig….. really enjoyable. Like I said Marcus, we just went in and played, hardly any rehearsal,,,,, I-2-3 lets go….

Hi Don, What can you remember about recording Play It Loud? Were there any left over songs or things that were not used?
That was our first time with Chas Chandler producing us in a ‘big’ studio. Most of those songs were written by Myself and Jim Lea. We never had anything left over. We used everything.

Hello Don, Thanks for doing this Q&A. How close were Slade to splitting in the run up to the surprise addition to the bill at Reading in 1980? What do you think would have happened if that hadn't been offered to you? Would Slade have continued?
WELL, we hadn’t seen each other for ages. Nod called me up out of the ‘blue’…. I thought great. We had one or two days rehearsal and off we went. I very much doubt if we’d have continued had we not done Reading.

Hello Don. You said in your diary that you weren't keen on recording the Okey Cokey. Were there any other songs that you were really not sure about at the time (even if you grew to love them later on)?
Okey-Cokey.... The, bane of my life, I still have nightmares about it. I really can’t think of any other songs that I wasn’t sure of….

Don. There is a credit to 'unknown member of the audience' for tambourine on Slade Alive! Do you think this just an audience member who thoughtfully brought one along, or was it supplied?
You know, I really don’t know who it was. They must have had the tambourine with them. Be nice to find out who it was….. Stand up and be counted, whoever you are.??????

Hi Don, Of the books that have been written about Slade, do you think that any of them actually have captured who the people in the band were / are accurately? It must be hard to write about people that you don't know. Which books impressed you - if any? Cheers.
Chris Charlesworth’s book is the one I’m most impressed with. The Noize is a great book about Slade's music. Another book I would like to mention is Ringo Starr & The Beatles Beat by Terry McCusker & Alex Cain…. The foreword was written by yours truly.

Hi Don, My question relates to the recording of the 70s albums to the 80s albums,=when Slade had stopped touring and were recording the 80s " Kamikaze Syndrome","Rogues Gallery" and "You boyz make big noize" albums,was the process of recording the tracks say different from the earlier albums,as in had Jim laid down most of the bits of the songs in the studio beforehand ,or did the rest of the band have as much input in playing their parts as on earlier albums? Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Andrew Jones
Hi Andrew, With those albums, we more-or-less just went in the studio and recorded all together as a band. All in one go…

Don , thanks very much for performing at my first ever gig, Glasgow Greens 1972 Thankfully my hearing came back last Tuesday. My Question: A few fans from the States have recently posted about their memories of Slade gigs in St Louis, San Francisco . Philly. Would love to hear your opinions of any of those gigs, the crowd, support acts etc.... That could be another book . And thanks for EVERYTHING, there's rarely been a day in 45 years where you four don't come into my mind. Alan Tennie Glasgow
Ha, Glasgow, one of my favourite places, ‘The Electric Gardens’ …. ‘Arran’. ‘St Louis’ was a great rockin’ town for us.‘San Francisco’ Bill Graham’s  Fillmore ( Winterland), Fantastic, we always played two nights there. SO well organised…‘Philly’ The Spectrum…. Another great gig for us, actually where some of, ‘Rocky’ was filmed. Thanks for your support Alan….

Hi Don. Hope you are ok and are well on the road to recovery following your recent health issue. My question is, if you had not been in Slade which group would you liked to have been in and why? Regards Geoff West
‘The Eagles’ - fantastic songs, I probably know them better than they do.

PG - Hi Don
Hope your feeling better .. I’m doin’ great thanks…
What is you favourite Slade song, ‘Far Far Away’
Favourite Slade album,’Nobody’s Fool’
Favourite Slade Tour, Slade & Quo, Australia, 1973, we’ve been mates ever since.
Favourite Slade period. 1972/1974. All the best Mate…Cheers.

RICH - Hi Don, Thanks for doing this Q&A. I was wondering that throughout your Slade career is there any thing you wished you had did differently. For example - not released a certain single or album or maybe regretted trying to crack America? Many Thanks again
Okey- Cokey……. America will always be a puzzle.

Up the Chute - Hi Don, The story is is that the drums on We'll Bring the House Down were recorded in the studio bogs! True story, or someone having a laugh? The sound is great, however you achieved it. Cheers!
TRUE, the drums were recorded in the ‘bog’ at Portland studios, BUT, halfway through a great take, the automatic flush went off. We had to start all over again after we turned the water off.

Bob - Hi Don, Do the four of you - Noddy, Jim, Dave, and yourself - ever get together and have dinner or a few drinks and reminisce a little? Thanks
I’ll be seeing Nod next week, Bob. About 3 times a year, a big gang of musos, writers and reporters have a big get together. If only those walls could talk.

Christian - Bonjour, Je vous suis depuis vos débuts ....j’ai 59 ans! Pourriez-vous me dire quand vous venez en Belgique ?Vous n’y venez pas souvent, quel dommage .
Bon rétablissement. Christian De Belgique.

For Sure…. Anything you say…

John Barker - Hi Don. I hope you are on the mend. Firstly, thank you so much for your wonderful message to my Slade Are For Life - Not Just For Christmas page recently, regarding the 50th anniversary of Ambrose Slade - Beginnings, and the page reaching 50,000 members. Your message went down really well with the fans, and within a week of posting it, we've added nearly another thousand people! Do you look at Facebook yourself, or do you rely on Hanne telling you what is happening?
Hanne keeps me up on ‘Facebook’

Whilst you have been recovering, have you, or are you going to see Slade play live, or would it be too strange seeing someone else sitting where you should be? All the best.
I might go and see Slade play live, stand down the front and ‘heckle’

Harald Lindbach, Norway - Hi Don, had great fun reading your book, and your music has always been part of my life. I would like to know what recording was the most difficult to do and what is the tecnically most difficult Slade song to play? Are there any songs that where left out of the live shows because they only worked in the studio but was hard to recreate live? All the best
I really can’t think of any difficulties playing anything in the studio Harald.
Some of the songs with brass on from Slade In Flame... we couldn’t really play live.

Lasse 62 - Cheers Don, Looking back after all those years what's your favourite Slade song? Have you ever played another instrument? Why did the band speed up the old songs when you played them live from late 70s till 84? Would you have liked to record a new album with the original band, under the right circumstances? Thank you for the great music experience over the years Don, hope you will be able to play live again.
‘Far Far Away’ is my favourite ‘cause of, Nod’s lyrics.
Jim Lea is the culprit for wanting everything SO fast, I hate playing too fast -takes the soul out of the song.

Friz - What’s planned for the 18/10/19 gig?
Have to wait and see…….

RICH - Hi Don, Lots has been said about Holder/ Lea Writing partnership. But several great songs were written by you and Jim - especially in the Play it loud era. What song do you think is your best and which you enjoy hearing? Thanks Don, hope them pins are getting better, hope to see you in October. I love Dapple rose, the song is so uncomplicated and has a great feeling to it.
Rich, I love ‘Wonderin’ Y’

jimc60 - Hi Don. Hope that you are getting better. What was your favourite gig, song you recorded and best city you played?
I think ‘The Reading Festival’ was a goodie, it brought us right back in the picture.
‘Far Far Away’
I don’t really have a favourite city, my friend…

M Washfold - Reading some of the questions, i find that as a young teenager in the early 1970s here in Australia, an up and coming band seemed to be similar to slade . Almost as if influenced by your band . And then around 1980 ish slade became more heavy - We'll bring the house down lp. Did SLADE and AC/DC ever meet up along the road to fame ?
We met when they supported Black Sabbath, Bon Scott singing.
I'm a lifetime slade fan yet unfortunately NOT keen on ac/dc. Just saw them a couple of times before they became famous outside of Melbourne Australia. I thought they were a slade type cover band .
Nice guys though….

What inspired the drum lick opening for 'Gudbuy T' Jane'?
It was an intro to a German TV show.
Which song/album represents your best drum work?’
Far Far Away’
If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently in cracking the American market back in the 1970s?
Crept in through the, back door…. NO hype

Mark F - Hi Don, What are your views on the current music scene ?, x factor ? venues closing etc. Thank you for the great records, come play Cardiff on your next tour.xx
Hi Mark. A lot of, stuff today is totally manufactured… NO SOUL. Love to play Cardiff….. sort it mate.

Jackie - One of my favourite songs is, 'Cuz I luv you.' It is such a timeless song and still packs a punch. I was just wondering who wrote it and whether it was about anyone in particular? Many thanks Jx
Our first No 1….. Nod & Jim wrote it..

Paul - Hi Don, Hope you can spare the time to give this question some thought. You have all moved on with your lives and individual projects have gone well, but do you still wish there were days when you could go back and just jam together in a hall or studio as you did in the very early days with Nod,Jim and Dave on a personal level? Thanks.
That would be a dream Paul….

Geoffrey - Hi Don. Hope you are now on the mend. I would like to ask who you favourite vocalist, drummer, bassist, guitarist are? I once read you loved The Eagles. Is this still the case. What do you think Slade's greatest legacy is?
John Lennon…… John Bonham….. Paul McCartney…..Don Felder.
The Eagles will always be my favourite..

slade25 - Hello Don, I hope you are recovering well. Regarding Slade trying to crack America circa 1975-76. You had pockets off success in places like San Francisco, St. Louis, NYC and a few others. Radio airplay was a tremendous help to bands of course but others "made it" without hits (Savoy Brown, Mott/Ian Hunter, Rory Gallagher, etc come to mind).
64,000 dollar question.

Nobody's Fools (which is a great album imo) was a mistake to release in America especially in 1976. In retrospect wouldn't you agree?

(The same can be said of Rogues Gallery in 1985 after Power Supply reintroduced the band into America and you were on the verge of cracking it finally).

As well, I wonder if Chas dropped the ball circa 1975-76 somewhat? Unless I'm wrong, he called all the shots on what the band did?
Again, 64,000 dollar question.

kimerb - Hi Don. Will we ever see Slade including Nod and Jim playing live at Glastonbury. All the best Kim
Wouldn’t that be a dream.?????

Alan from Stafford! - Hello Don, Hope you are recovering well, I was wondering if the Oliver musical featuring Slade music would ever be performed in England ?
I’m trying to make that possible…
Do you think that Slade are not given the credit they deserve when other bands like Queen, T.Rex etc seem to get plaudits and airplay all the time ? best wishes
64,000 dollar question.

Benjamin Bear - Hi Don, thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions, much appreciated, you really are a top guy. Did the band have much input into what artwork/cover shots that were used on the album sleeves or in fact single picture sleeves ? Following on from that what was favourite and least favourite Slade album cover ?
We had more or less the final say. The Record Co & Chas started the ball rolling.
Favourite cover, Slade Alive (live shot from the Marquee Club London).
Least Favourite, Crackers. It says nothing.
Do you have any memories of working with Shaun Greenfield at RCA, good or bad ?
Shaun Greenfield was 100% behind us, he got us and John Punter together.

On the album track Ready To Explode, Pete Drummond does the announcements at the beginning of the song. He finally says something along the lines of 'And I think Michael Elphick they are Ready To Explode'. I think he says Michael Elphick, who was Michael Elphick ?
A new one on me.?????
Michael Elphick is an actor.

It has been rumoured that both Radio Wall of Sound and Universe were basically Jim's demo's with Nod's vocals added. Can you confirm if you and Dave did actually record new drum and guitar tracks on these songs in the studio?
Jim had more or less put the basic tracks down. I added percussion. Nod couldn’t sing the verses in ‘Wall Of Sound’ as it was too low a key for his voice.
‘H wasn’t on either track.

On your website, I love reading your old dairy entries from some years in the late 70's and early 80's, is there any chance you could add some more diary years to the site ?
Good idea, I did get good response from my diaries.

Chris - Don..for nearly 60 years of your working life every time you look up you have been greeted with a view of Dave Hills you feel this has affected you in any way?
That’s why I’ve got a twitch and have nightmares and throw up.

Lasse62 - How was the last concert in USA like, supporting ozzy 84? I have listen to it on tape and I felt the Slade spirit wasn't there anymore? I know Jim was ill
True, Jim was ill, the crowd weren’t with, us…. If I’m being honest, I don’t think it was right for us.

Draggula - Hi,Don! Hope you are doing better and recover in full very very soon. All the best.
1) Slade Alive, was re-released so many times in different Formats. But Slade played three nights,any chance, that there will be a release of the left over stuff?

There isn’t any leftover stuff, mate.

2) What do you think about the other two Live Albums? They`re rarely mentioned by any of the members.
They don’t come up to the original Slade Alive.

3) Any chance of further Vinyl Re-releases especially for Play it loud and Whatever happened to Slade,as well as Sladest?...and of course all the rest.
And last but not least (I ask this question since 1973) is there a Version of the Earls Court Film,that could be used for a DVD production with todays Technology lots of things are possible even Soundwise. Tarr for answereing..Keep on rocking!!!

I thought a lot of our LP’s were re-released on vinyl.????
That Earls Court Film is a mystery to me……. With, technology, like you say, something could be done with it….

Many thanks to Don for his time and trouble, answering these questions.
I hope eveyone is happy with the answers.
We'll do it again in a bit.


Hi Don. How did you create the drum sound on My Oh My? Thank you.
(Mick Anyon
I assume you mean for the intro and outro drum fills.? I actually used Roto-Toms for those with lots of effects on them..... Great sound eh.?

Hi Don. I think Do You Believe In Miracles is a fantastic record and expected it to fair better, sales wise. What are your experiences with Sir Bob Geldof? Thank you. (Mick Anyon
Mmmmm, I think “Miracles’ was a bit too much in the same ilk as ‘My Oh My’. Mick.... Geldof is an OK guy, BUT he is very much aware of who he is... that’s not a ‘knock’

I saw Slady at the Slade convention last Saturday and wondered what you think ? I thought they sounded spot on, would have liked to see them on the stage next door. (Hardrock73
Slady were very much better than I thought they would be.... nice people as well.......

Hi, Don! Hope you`re getting better and better and be soon back on the Skins! I once read, but sadly can`t remember where - it was on the net , probably on another gone Forum or so...that when you were told, that years before, in the mid-70s, Big Mogul Bill Graham offered Chas (R.I.P.) a deal to take care for Slade on the US leg of the Business Side and Chas refused, you`ve been a bit shocked. What so ever...if this was true, Do you think Slade's future would have looked different? Nothing against Chas (R.I.P.), but I think Bill Graham was the bigger number back then in the US. Tho I know that Chas knew a hell of big Bizz people in the US...just your thoughts?
Cheers and thanks again for doing this Q&A again. All the best (Draggula).

We never knew about Bill Graham wanting to manage us in the States until the ‘90’s..... It definitely would have been a different story in the US if he had. He was SO well respected......

BTW: when did you stop chewing Wrigleys on stage???? (Draggula)

Ha, when it started fetching my fillings out. After my car accident, I had to have a lot of fillings.... It was my dentist who recommended the gum shield. I wanted to have one of the front ones ‘blacked’ out.... He wouldn’t do it..

Another one comes to mind...who created.. or had the idea of that famous SLADE Fist? Tarr! (Draggula)
That was actually Chas’s idea, maybe someone else put it to him. That sign is known all over the world, wherever we go, everyone does that sign to us... Ha, this is the answer to question 6.....

Hi Don!
First of all, thank you for attending and taking part (the video greeting was great) of the weekend at the Convention. It was really nice meeting you in person. I also took the opportunity to visit The Trumpet for a pint of Black Country Special on my trip, holy ground. So, I've Always wondered about your part in Slade’s Music, in the early years you obviously wrote the lyrics but I'm more interested in your part of the actual arrangements. For instance there is a special drum pattern in the verses of "Cum on feel the noize", "Skweeze me...", "Summer song", "When the lights are out", "Miles out to sea", "All the World is a stage" and "Mama weer all crazee now" (probably several more). I think it's genius and my fellow musicians always knows what I'm talking about when I refer to "The Powell rhythm". Was that your own contribution or did some of the other members / producers come up with this idea? Last but not least, hope your legs soon will be ready for some serious "Powelling" and keep on rockin'!! (Jonas Granath, Sweden)

I had a great time at the Convention.... Isn’t the Trumpet something special..? I really enjoyed writing those lyrics, Jonas.... I’ve actually started again. Ha, the POWELL RHYTHM was something that started in the rehearsal room. I went on the snare-drum so I could hear everything. it’s amazing how many people think it’s more complicated than it is....

Hi Don ,
I’m in NYC with my kids and as I walk around I remember being here in May 1975 as a 10 year old kid , I have been thinking about why you guys came home so soon .. I can’t help feeling that Slade were made for America. From my calculations Slade were based in the states from June 1975 to September / October 1976 - Just over a year. So my question is ... Why didn’t the Band stay longer in the US ? I hope you are getting stronger mate. Keep on BANGIN’ MAN xx (PG
The States have always been a mystery to us, we never understood why it never happened for us..... Oh Well.......

Hello Don, when you look back on your life was the time around 1970 / 71 that Slade broke through in the charts also the happiest period in your own life? Living the life of a famous rock star is the dream of many of us when you are young but how do you look back on it in reflection? (Bullit 27
It was a fantastic time mate.... Being able to travel to place you only see on TV or read about.... Especially the old Eastern Bloc...

10) When you think back do you have a favourite gig or a favourite Slade tour? (Lasse62)
My most memorable gig is the Great Western Festival. That broke us through to such a wide audience - from that gig we weren’t just thought of as a TOTP’s band....

Which Slade song is the most difficult to play? (Lasse62)

I don’t think there is any Slade song that’s too difficult to play, mate. I just get into a groove and go for it.....

Hi Don, thanks again for taking the time to answer some more questions. So here goes - Record producer/engineer George Shilling lists working with Slade post 2006 on his website. Do you have any memory of what these recordings were for and are there a catalogue of unreleased material from the band post 2000 ? (Benjamin Bear)

Yeah, actually George was really good to work with Benjamin. I can’t really itemise anything in particular. George was SO easy to work with, he was also SO quick in getting sounds together...

What are your memories of recording at Portland Studios, how did it compare from say the bigger studios the band used like Olympic or Air ? Benjamin Bear

All studios are different to work in, for different reasons - especially for drum sounds. Both Portland and Olympic had large rooms, enabling us to get a huge drum sound, often having the drums in the toilets to get that big ambient live sound. With AIR studios, their equipment was SO up to date. we could get the huge drum sound through their equipment and effects

Who is the most famous musician who has come up to you and complimented you on your drumming style and shocked you by revealing themselves as a Slade fan ? (Benjamin Bear)

Peter Gabriel really wanted to work with me, after we recorded the QSP CD at his studio.... Nice compliment eh.????

Finally not a question but a polite request. Come on Don, how about putting a few more of your diary years on your website, they are an absolute brilliant read for us Slade nutters ! (Benjamin Bear)

Sounds good. I will get that together mate, that’s something I really enjoyed doing......

Hi Don. Many thanks for doing another Q&A. My question is over the many years of touring with Slade did you ever socialise with the support bands after the gigs and what was the most outrageous thing you might of got up to. Hope the legs are getting better mate. (Rich 2628)

I always made a point of getting to know our support bands. I remember many years before, when whoever was topping the bill over us never even came to even say hello. SO, I vowed to always go and say hello to whoever was on the, bill with, us...

Greetings fm Canada Don, Regarding Slade's "American experience(s) - bands like Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Frampton all opened for you circa 1973-74. Moving ahead to 1975-76 the roles were reversed. Was that frustrating for you/the band to perhaps feeling like you were not making progress? I'm wondering if Chas dropped the ball somewhat in his vision for Slade in America? (Steve)

Hi Steve, Even the, Eagles and, Billy Preston opened for Slade, in Philadelphia in, 1973. We never managed to get radio airtime over there. I sometimes think we were a little too adventurous, topping the bill so soon in America.

Did you notice differences between Canadian vs American audiences? Other well-known groups have made mention of this. (Steve)

Yes I did, Steve. It seems like Canadian audiences knew our songs more than the American audiences.

Thanks all, love your book and for being the "nicest guy in rock n roll" (Steve)

Thanks for enjoying my biog Steve, a lot of credit must go to, Lise Falkenberg, for her incredibly hard work and patience... ‘ Nicest Guy In Rock’N’ Roll’ How.???????

Hey Don! Another (D)one. Great QSP!!! You three are working great together, live as well as in the Studio! There`s Potential for more self-written songs, esp. when Suzie and Andy switching L Vox. Any future Plans? (Despite your Handicap)? DRAGGULA

QSP had a great time recording and touring together, believe me... I am actually at this moment recording solo stuff together with friends.

21) Hi Don, good to hear your getting well.
If you can remember, what did you think of nod when you met him for the first time.
Do you regret Nod and Jim stopping at such a young age? SEUBY.

When he was in a band called the ‘Rockin’ Phantoms’ they changed their name to the ‘Memphis Cutouts’... used to watch them at, St Giles YC, he reminded me of John Lennon...

22) Hi Don. What were your top 5 favourite gigs in Slade ? (PG)

Great Western Festival
Marquee Club, Wardour St.
Electric Gardens, Glasgow.
Isle of Arran.
Madison Square Gardens
What are your top 5 best gigs as a punter ?
Mott The Hoople - Wolves Civic Hall.
Cream - Willenhall Baths.
Hollies - Willenhall Baths
Eagles - Spectrum Arena, Philadelphia.
Humble Pie - San Diego

23) Hi Don
What are your top 5 best Films?

Midnight Express.
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.
Easy Rider
Jungle Book
What are your current top 5 albums?
Long Run.... Eagles.
With The Beatles.... Beatles
Deja Vu..... CSNY
Physical Graffiti.... Led Zeppelin
Sgt Pepper..... Beatles

24) Hi Don, happy to hear you are on the mend. Speedy recovery. We often here when you are back in the UK you use this time to nip to HMV to stock up on DVD’s. What sort of films, tv series etc do you tend to buy and watch? (BanginMan)
Fawlty Towers.
Only Fools And Horses.

25) Dear Don, Why was there so little promotion of the QSP album given it's success in Australia, is there going to be another? Will Slade ever bring another album out given Dave promised several times. Good luck on your return to performing.. (Steve B aka Comfibear)
QSP had a lot of, promo in Australia, sending it into their Top 20..

I don’t know why Dave always misleads people saying there will be another Slade CD..... There won't.... Believe me.

26) Hi Don. Glad you are recovered and out and about again. On the album Whatever happened to Slade, Dogs of vengeance seems out of character with all the other tracks, as if it was written for a film or special show. Can you explain if this is the case, and if not where did the idea for the lyrics come from? Thank you and keep bashing the skins. Steve. (RAGTAG)
Yeah, I always thought that was a strange track.... weird lyrics from Nod.

Don, Thanks again for doing this. A couple of specific questions about your own songs.
27) What was the writing process with them? Did you come up with lyrics on your own and give them to the others to look at later, or did you sit down and write them with someone else there, while they had a guitar in their hand? (Ian)
I used to write lyrics then, take them to Jim, Being tone deaf, it was a problem trying to get my melody ideas across to him. He was very patient though.

28) Did you have many lyrics that were not used?
There are a few knocking around, some being used by Don Powell’s Occasional Flames.

Did you have many completed songs that were not used? (Ian)
NO mate.

29) How long did it usually take to write a lyric and then to get the song written, rehearsed and recorded? (Ian)
Every song is different mate, some take longer than others.

30) Did a song with unusual subject matter like Dapple Rose immediately get accepted by the band? (Ian)
Actually yes mate, it was a contender for a single at one point.

31) We all know that the band moved to the Holder / Lea writing team after the hits started. Did you not see a point in presenting lyrics to the band later on, or was the band's writing team then firmly established and that was it? (Ian)
The writing team was firmly established with Nod & Jim.

32) I am aware that there was a side project bubbling away within Slade II that eventually didn't come off. You did some co-writes for that. Apart from a rehearsal tape, were any recordings made? (Ian)
We did release the ‘Keep On Rockin’ CD

33) The Andy Miller song 'Another win' (also recorded by Status Quo and similarly not issued). How did Slade come to record it? Any ideas why it wasn't used at the time?
Good question, forgot about that one mate....
I understand that the band were offered the tape of the song, but it was turned down? (Ian)
Don’t know why.?????

34) Although it didn't fare that well chart wise, the great "How Does It Feel" stands up these days as one of Slade's most played songs on BBC Radio 2 and a certain fan favourite. Did you guys think you'd recorded something special and that it would stand the test of time when you recorded it? Thank you. (Mick Anyon)
I still think personally think it could it could have been recorded better....

Firstly a hypothetical question for you Don. Look Wot I Dun My Life In Slade is going to made into a film and you are employed as a film adviser, which actor would you pick to play yourself in the film ?

Dave Hill

36 - Do you know how many copies has the hardback edition of your book by Lise have been sold ?
Don’t know exact figures BUT, Omnibus seem very happy.

37 - Are you aware of the comments Noddy has made recently, especially regarding the demise of the band on a UK radio documentary about Slade ? I'm especially interested in the comment he made along the lines that the four ego's of the members contributed to the split. This to me seemed an unfair comment about yourself, as a fan you are someone to me who doesn't appear to carry any sort of ego at all, can I ask your view on his assessment, do you think you had an ego in the original band ?
He's talking about his own ego I think….

38 - Have you ever considered putting yourself in a position of peacemaker to try and reconcile the differences between your ex band mates, not with the view of getting the original band back together to play/record, but rather simply having four mates who worked together for twenty five years in a sensational rock band back in contact as simply friends ?
It would be a waste of time…. It will never happen.

39 Hi Don! Me again. So many Questions turning up. What was it with Thanks for the memory (one of my fav. Slade Tunes of all time) and the late John Bonham? Was he really keen to play the Drums for this one? And would you let him ? (Draggula)
What it was, he really liked MY drumming on that particular record…

40 - Hi, Don!
Keith Moon???? (Draggula)

Lovable rogue…. Never malicious…

41 - BTW: Reeves & Mortimer...where`s that "Cuppa Soup" gag from? Where`s the origins??? (I was rolling on the floor laughing... back the when I got my Vids via ebay etc...) (Draggula)
Must have come from them or their script writers…

42 - Hello Don, we were discussing " all the world is a stage" on the forum and that it is such a great number and we wondered if Slade ever played it live or even consider playing it live? (Bullit 27)
Mmmmmm, we never tried that for stage…

43 - Hi Don,
Good to hear you are back and playing the drums. You did show me the scars on your legs!! What is your favourite drum kit you like to play on and do you own your favourite drum kit? Thanks for doing another Q&A. All the best Don powell & Keep on Rocking!!!!
Ps, Did you receive a DVD & MEMORY STICK Don? Michael Van Overstraeten

I loved my huge chrome Ludwig kit… BUT, the Pearl kit I have now is SO good…

44 - Hi Don. Thanks for taking these questions through the forum. One thing I asked Jim at his Q & A in Bilston was whether he still had the tapes of the jam you referred to of you both with Tommy Burton after you recorded `Find Yourself a Rainbow` on ONB & B. Jim simply wondered "How did he (you) remember that??!!", but don`t thnink actually answered about the recording. Do you know if it still does exist - whether with Jim or somewhere else - and whether any other jam sessions are still around? It would be good for fans to hear sessions like that somehow if so. Thanks Don, and I hope you are now picking up with your health. Russ Myners
I honestly thought Jim had a copy….. My health is great, 3 hours in the fitness centre every morning…

45 - Hi Don. It was mentioned near the end of last year that you had flown in to help Jim with a project of his, and that there would be further news to follow. Could you let us know whether this was for one or more of his new tracks? Thanks again, Russ Myners
Frank Lea did ask me ages ago. I said yes, for sure…. Never heard anything since..

46 - Hi Don. Do you now ever get around to writing songs again yourself like the early days, and if so whether you think they will be brought to the band for use on stage?
Thanks Don. Russ Myners

Along with Paul Cookson and Les Glover, we’ve written all the songs together for our ‘Occasional Flames’ project.

47 - Hi Don it's Kev read lifetime fan of slade and the forum after the relentless slating the band got in the the late 70s did you ever think I'm better than this and thought off getting in another band as the stigma was too much or was you like me and the rest of the fans devoted to the band whatever the critics through at you , by the way perseverance paid off handsomely later in 80 and boy was I proud along with everyone else rock and roll resurrected by the Boyz who made big noise by blowing everyone else of stage 1980.was the second coming not from the good lord but the nearest thing Slade.
We were always confident in ourselves.

48 - Hello Don, what do you think of the cover version of "Merry Xmas" by Robbie Williams and Jamie Cullum? Many fans do not like this version, but I like this swing version. I also saw on your site the meeting of Robbie and you. Thank you for all these years, and good recovery. Gerard Goyer (France fan)
He was gonna ask Nod to sing it with him…..

49 - Hi Don. Since you had some song writing credits very early on in the seventies have you give up writing material. Dave Hill wrote some stuff in the 80s which I find very good. Have you ever tried to collaborate? David Bridge
Like I said earlier, I've been writing with Paul Cookson and, Les Glover for our ‘Occasional Flames’ project.

50 - Hi Don....Firstly, thank you so much for your attendance at the Slade Fans Convention. The amount of time you spent chatting to Slade fans was wonderful, and much appreciated by everyone. Paul Cookson described you as 'the nicest man in showbusiness', and I totally agree with that. ….. So my question is: Who is nicest celebrity you have ever met, (and why) and also who was not very nice and disappointed you!!? John Barker
Bob Hope was incredible, met him in a lift in a hotel in LA. SO interested in what I was doing. He had never heard of Slade though. Jack Palance was not SO nice. I was in a restaurant with a date. He was also there. She went to ask him for his autograph. He told her bluntly to ‘fu*k OFF’ How long does it take to write your name.???

51 - Hi Don. In the middle of GDAGW on Slade Alive (red) Someone shouts “let go baby “ As kids me and my mate thought it was you ... Was it you? If not who was it ? Cheers PG
Can’t say I’ve ever heard that, PG….

52 - Hi Don. My favourite live track from Slade Alive was always Born to be wild. I always thought it far superior to anyone else who ever covered it. Why in later years did you change the sound of it and the guitars and the wild bit I call it. David Bridge
I wasn’t aware we had, David.??????

53 - Hi Don, I think of Slade as having two parts to their career-the first half being with the original line up, and the second half being with Don/Dave plus non original members. Which half has been the best for you personally? ANDY CHELT
Nothing will ever better the original lineup, Andy….

54 - Many people have really large drum kits(yourself included years ago). You now have a small drum kit but still make the same amazing sound out of it- is there an advantage to having so many drums or is it purely ego by the drummer? ANDY CHELT
Personally, I think it’s just ego. Mind you, I did have that huge Ludwig Kit in the ‘70’s….. EGO.?????

55 - And finally, when you were on stage at The Slade Rooms in October you were very very funny the entire time-have you ever thought of taking up comedy on stage-you would be brilliant?!! Thanks Don for taking time to answer these questions. ANDY CHELT
Ha, that would be very difficult. I have a great time at such things like the convention…

56 - HI Don, Me again, Slade did a gig way back in 1976 in the States. it might of been The Winter Gardens? But Slade where on the same bill as Golden Earring & Be Bop Deluxe. Golden Earring were top of the bill and Slade second. Don , can you recall anything from that Gig and did you get to meet Barry Hay, George Kooymans , Cesar Zuiderwijk and Rinus Gerritson (Golden Earring) members? If you did, what did you think of that Band? I always had and still have my admiration for Golden Earring. I have met them in person and have seen them live lots of the times in the past. Hope you can remember as it is a long time ago! Thanks for doing anther Q&A. Regards From Michael Van Overstraeten
We first met Golden Earring at a ‘Live Over Europe’ radio broadcast from Helgoland about 1970.
Fantastic rock band then. They were a bit aloof, never got to speak to them…

57 - Hi Don, Just seen on your website that you will not be attending any of the Slade Gigs (The 2019 Xmas Tour). I am so sorry to hear this. I thought you would have been able to play the drums for a few songs at least. If it is doctors orders, then you got to adhere to it. Don, are you going to carry on with your new project "Don Powell's Occasional Fames"? If so, will there be any new material in the near future? I have enjoyed an evening with Don Powell so much at the Slade Rooms. It is also a privilege for me to have met you so many times that I can not count on my two hands. Don, you are a through Gentleman Of Rock. Hope to see ya soon next year at one of Slade's Gigs!!!
Regards from Michael Van Overstraeten 'KEEP ON ROCKIN DON'

Our ‘Occasional Flames’ have just recorded last week enough material for a double album - 11 tracks recorded in one day, would you believe…

58 - Hi Don, As Mal left the band, did you consider to take Steve Whalley back? And if not, why? IMHO he is by far the best lead singer in the band, post Nod obviously, and also the most entertaining one. KOR BIGMAC
Steve is a great singer, BUT, he has moved on to other things…

59 - Hi Don, I hope that you´re doing ok even though you can´t tour at the moment. As much as I liked You boyz make big noize when it was released, I couldn’t help noticing that it didn’t sound an awful lot like a Slade album. From what I understand Jim´s and Roy´s intention was to create a classic Slade album but with a more updated sound. What were your thoughts about that album around that time?
It wasn’t a good time for the band around that time AND it shows on that album….

60 - How much of that album was a group effort, or was it Jim playing most of the guitars?
Basically, just Jim and myself….

61 - Nod left 1992 and has said in interviews over the years that one of the reasons he left was he felt that there was nothing more for Slade to do. How do you feel about that, do you agree with Nod, or did you think that the band had more to offer musically? Marcus Wright, Sweden
Nod had had enough. He wanted to move on to other things….

I met you and Dave backstage at Slade II´s first ever gig in a small town called Mora in Sweden December 1992. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and Dave for taking the time to talk to me that night. KOR Marcus Wright, Sweden
Anytime Marcus, you’re welcome…

62 - I saw Slade the first [of 12 gigs for the original band] on 27th February 1973 at the Hard rock, Stretford , Manchester. The day that Noize went in at #1 [with Suzi Q supporting] This was my first ever rock gig[ I was 17! my sister was 16, it was the loudest, hottest, craziest night, we were all standing on the seats. I wonder if you recall this particular gig?
I do mate, what a fantastic gig eh.?

63 - Hi Don, any chance of more QSP ? Any chance of a Slade 2 album ? SEUBY
We all would love to, BUT all too busy with our own thing. A great time making our album AND the Australian tour….

64 - It's been asked why there came to be a picture of you wearing Noddy’s hat on the front of Lise's book, instead of a more obvious picture featuring your drums? (Ian)
It was Chris Charlesworth’s idea. That hat is such an iconic thing, SO easily noticed…

Many thanks to Don for his answers to so many questions.