Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Slade belting out across the airwaves. We caught up with Dave Hill and found a family man who’s still rocking in his seventies. The platform shoes have had to go though…
No TV and with only classical music playing on the radio at home meant that when rock ’n’ roll landed it was like lifting a lid on another world for Dave Hill. He launched himself into the scene in a big way and managed to convince his parents he should pack up his job and pursue a career in music. The next hurdle was the extravagant outfits of glam rock that his father was less than impressed with.
It was the home-made nature of the outfits that his dad struggled with, including the famous Metal Nun costume that Dave wore on Top of the Pops when performing Cum On Feel the Noize among many others. Of his home-made creations, Dave says: “One day I had this idea of a silver outfit. I bought a long black ladies coat and sprayed it silver with the paint you spray cars with. I thought it was great, so I put it up against the door in our council house and it left an imprint of the shape of coat. Dad went mad!”
EVER THE SHOWMAN
The inspiration for the costumes came from watching American films at the local cinema as well as entertainers from Vaudeville such as Max Miller. Dave recalls: “I knew that you had to be noticed and special. I still wear great costumes today. It’s still about dressing up for a show for me. No platforms mind you as I broke my ankle in the seventies, but I still rock out for sure. You can’t hold Dave Superyob Hill down!” Dave’s dad was mightily relieved when a professional stylist came on the scene and he could kiss goodbye to the make-shift design house at home.
Embarking on another tour we wonder if still playing that song ever gets tedious. “No, I don’t ever get bored. It’s part of so many people’s lives. It is popular because it means so much to people across the world. Look to the future will always be here in the hearts of people.” He adds: “I enjoy playing every Slade song. We have so many that every song I play in the set is a big hit. Not many bands have that and I’m thankful we do. When you finish a show on Merry Christmas Everybody the audience goes home still singing the songs and feeling the Noize!”
MY WAY OF LIFE
At 73 years of age, Dave didn’t think he’d still be touring, but he has never viewed Slade as a job, more a way of life. “When you do something you love people recognise that and they see me having a great time on stage, so they join in for the party and remember their happy times.” Proud to still be in the music business, Dave has always loved to travel, meet new people and hear the fans stories and memories. He says: “Life is for living and having something you love.”
A published author as well as glam rock legend, Dave’s memoir, So Here It Is, was published in 2017 and documents his upbringing in the Midlands post war. Of those years, he says: “We had bombed out houses to play in. We felt very safe being out in the woods and fields – a different time to now. There wasn’t much money but there were nice people. Life was simple and then rock ’n’ roll arrived – my world and purpose in life. The guitar was new. I just wanted to play it because pop stars like Elvis, Duane Eddy, Hank Marvin, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry played one.”
The fact we’re still listening to old tracks is testament to the greatness of the melodies. Dave says that back then the lack of technology and other forms of entertainment meant that music was everything. “The songs had great melodies and we fell in love to music and danced to it, there were no computers or mobile phones but a lot of imagination and the TV to look at.”
Dave’s music knowledge is vast and he’s always on the look out for new talent, but if he needs a lift, it’s the oldies he harks back to. “I stick on Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beatles Number Ones or The Shadows. My upbringing was special. We had the best music and melodies to learn from. Just like Slade songs they don’t go out of fashion, they’re great to play and make people happy.”
A ‘family man’, Dave’s managed to stay grounded through the years despite the success and he’s pretty philosophical about it. “I love people and I like to connect with them. We are all the same in this world. We all have gifts and mine is music and entertaining. When you make people happy you don’t withhold from yourself, it’s a two-way feeling and on stage is where it happens. Off stage I’m just Dave who likes to chat to people.”