Christmas rock ’n’ roll with Slade at The White Rock Theatre

Dave Hill
Dave Hill

Slade’s Rockin’ Home for Christmas tour 2019 heads to Hastings’ White Rock Theatre on Thursday, December 5 (7.30pm).

Tickets cost £28.50. Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult. White Rock Friends get £2.50 off the ticket price. Call 01424 462288 or visit whiterocktheatre.org.uk.

The band is led by founder members Dave Hill on lead guitar and Don Powell on drums, with John Berry on lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar and violin.

A spokesperson said: “Slade today is still one of the most exciting bands on the road, and their stage performance is a dynamic, powerful and exhilarating roller-coaster ride of pure unadulterated rock ’n’ roll. Nothing says Christmas quite like a gig with Slade.”

An interview with Dave Hill:

What did your parents think of you being in a glam rock band?

Well the first thing was convincing them to pack up my job and go professional, which they said yes to. I was 18 years of age at the time and the Glam rock side of things was much later when I found my feet in the band and then got into the clothes. My father Jack had problems with me when I decided to make my own outfits as you couldn’t get things I wanted. So one day I had this idea for 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 in the lounge and it left an imprint of the shape of coat. Dad went mad. I think he was happy when I got designers later on. The Metal Nun was my creation at Dad’s house. We went to number one with ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’ when I wore that costume on Top of the Pops.

Where did the inspiration come from for the outrageous outfits and can you still rock a pair of platforms?

The inspiration was from watching American films at the local cinema – Doris Day, Showboat musicals etc – plus also entertainers from Vaudeville such as Max Miller. I knew that you had to be noticed and special and, most of all, make them laugh. I still wear great costumes today. It’s still about dressing up for a show for me and to make them smile. No platforms mind you as I broke my ankle in the ’70s.

What music do you listen to at home?

Well, I’m very mixed on my taste. I grew up on classical music. With mum and dad it was always on the radio, no telly at that time. Then rock ’n’ roll arrived, that was it… Life opened a magic door to the future. I have a vast knowledge of music but if I want lifting up, I stick on Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beatles Number Ones or The Shadows. I always keep an eye on new talent. T he main thing is, my upbringing was special and 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.

You’ve released an autobiography. What are the most poignant things you talk about in the book?

The reason I wrote my book was for my family, fans and memories. I cover post-war Britain growing up in council houses, going to Youth centres, cinema on a Saturday morning, Cowboy and Indian films, Flash Gordon and Superman. In our area, 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. Christmas was simple, life was simple too…but then rock ’n’ roll arrived, my world and purpose in life. The guitar was new then. I just wanted to play it because pop stars like Elvis, Duane Eddy, Hank Marvin, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry played one. I grew my hair, formed a band called the Young Ones, and I never looked back.

Merry Christmas Everybody is still a huge Christmas hit. Why do you think the old tracks of that era still make the charts today?

That’s simple: the songs of that time had great melodies. As I’ve said before, music was everything when we were young, you fell in love, danced to it, there were no computers or mobile phones but a lot of imagination and the TV to look at. The Christmas song belongs to that time and is a reminder of a great time in music.

Do you ever get bored of performing it?

No, I don’t ever get bored playing a song that is well written and part of so many people’s lives. It is popular because it means so much to people across the world: look to the future, it will always be here in the hearts of people.

You tour every year, what’s life like now compared to it in the 70’s?

I didn’t think we would be still doing it, but for me it was never a job, it was my life. When you do something you love people recognise that and see me having a great time on stage, so they join in for the party and remember their happy times.

What do you think explains your continuing popularity all over the world?

I think the popularity all over the world is because there’s a common bond in our music, which is shared. We are all one when it comes to our songs it joins us together.

What other characteristics about you are people drawn to?

I’ve always stayed grounded, I’m a family man. 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.

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