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'Dave can’t use the name Slade anymore': Former drummer Don Powell on being fired by his bandmate and the next chapter

By Andy Richardson | Music | Published:

Slade drummer Don Powell today spoke of his shock at being kicked out of the band he has played in and loved for more than 50 years.

Slade's Don Powell at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Powell received an email from guitarist Dave Hill saying his services were no longer required.

It has been suggested that Powell’s recent health struggles after damaging tendons in his legs were behind the move. But he has dismissed that suggestion and says he is back to his best.

He said: “I wasn’t expecting it, that’s for sure. All I know is I got the email saying Dave didn’t want to work with me any more.

“What can I say? He’s somebody I’ve been working with since 1963 – before we formed Slade – and I got an email like that. It was the end of last week, I think, or the start of this week.

Slade at Heathrow airport in 1972

“You can imagine, I was quite taken aback when I got it. I haven’t spoken to him, obviously, but whatever, we’ll see. Someone you’ve been playing in a band with 1963…. what can you say?

“There’s no problem with my legs. I’ve been playing a few songs. And there’s no problem, believe me.”

Powell revealed he is going ahead with his plans to form his own band, Don Powell’s Slade, and he said he would challenge Dave Hill unless he agreed to change the name of his band to Dave Hill’s Slade.

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I’m forming the band. I’m sitting with the bass player and we’re sorting a few things out and getting a format together," he said.

"People love the shows, it’s still there. The fans are still there so I’ve got no intentions of jacking it in. I’m still having a ball. This is a new phase of having my life. I know all the guys and we’ll get a band together. Dave can’t use the name Slade anymore – he’ll have to use the name Dave Hill’s Slade.”

Slade

The association between Powell and Hill goes back to the 1960s, when they played in The ‘N Betweens.

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They enjoyed the highs and lows, with Slade becoming the most successful British band since The Beatles, selling millions of records and enjoying huge success around the world.

They sold a reported 50 million records and achieved 17 consecutive top 20 hits and six number ones on the UK Singles Chart.

Original frontman Noddy Holder and guitarist/songwriter Jim Lea left after 25 years when the band’s popularity started to decline. The original quartet last performed together in 1991 when they played a version of Johnny B Goode at Walsall Town Hall.

Don Powell and Dave Hill kept the flame alive by forming Slade II in 1992 with other musicians. The line-up has changed on a number of occasions since then, though Powell and Hill were ever-presents.

Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell, collect their honorary followships from their home town University of Wolverhampton

Powell said he was always supportive of other members and is surprised he has now had to leave.

He said: “When you think we formed in 1966 and we had a fantastic career really and Noddy later went off and found other outlets and other things, like the acting parts like the DJ thing, it’s been great.

“Nod had a regular thing on Manchester radio because he wanted to further his career and he ended up doing a lot of voice overs. You can hear him on certain programmes – his voice is unmistakeable.”

Powell added it was no secret there had been ups and downs between band members over the years, while also revealing that the four members had never bought each other a drink.

Dave Hill and Don Powell get ready to take to the stage for last night's 40th anniversary gig at the Robin 2 Club, in Bilston,

He said: “Having different characters in a band is what makes a band. Ninety nine per cent of bands have different personalities and that’s what makes the bands.

"The thing with the four of us was that we knew each other so well. There was one weird thing about us which was that we never bought each other a drink.

"In all our years together, we never once did that. There was an unwritten law and we’d buy our own drinks. We would be out together but we still wouldn’t buy each other a drink.

"We just didn’t do that. There was nothing untoward, it’s just the way it was.”

Many close to the band have described Powell as being the most easy-going member of Slade. And Powell says that characterisation is probably correct, adding: “That’s fair enough. It’s been good not really being recognised because I’ve been the drummer, I’ve had less attention that the other guys.

Don Powell visits the new premises of One Way Music, Salop Street, Wolverhampton in 2017

"I’d say that’s been to my advantage. I’ve been able to go out anywhere and have a quiet night without people coming over.

“I did get some people coming over telling me I looked like the drummer out of Slade. Whenever people said that, I’d just reply ‘A lot of people say that’.

"I did have a girl once who told me I looked like the drummer and I told her I was. So she told me I was rubbish and I never did it again. It’s funny, looking back.”

Powell added that he was in good health and raring to go. He said: “We’ve been playing and we’ve been rehearsing. There had been nothing untoward with Dave over the past year. I had the problem with the tendons of my leg and I was warned I’d be in a wheelchair if I played and that’s it, so I kept off the drums until it all healed.

“But then all of a sudden I got the email. Well, you know, what can you say? I just thought after all these years you could have spoken to me face to face.”

Slade's Don Powell talking at the Art Gallery as he takes part in the Wolverhampton Literary Festival in 2018

Powell added that he was looking forward to the next chapter of Slade. “There’ll possibly be Christmas shows, we’ll see how it goes. It’s all coming together pretty quickly if I’m being honest and I’ll keep people in the loop.”

Dave Hill’s agent has been approached for a comment. The musician did comment on the Slade website, saying: “Our parting of the ways has not come out of the blue”. He described Powell’s version of events as “not accurate”.

Andy Richardson

By Andy Richardson
Feature Writer - @andyrichardson1

Feature writer and food critic Andy Richardson interviews celebrities, writes columns and hangs out with chefs for stories that appear across all group titles.

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