Slade may have never truly caught on with American audiences (often narrow-mindedly deemed "too British-sounding"), but the group became a sensation in their homeland with their anthemic brand of glam rock in the early '70s, as they scored a staggering 11 Top Five hits in a four-year span from 1971 to 1974 (five of which topped the charts). Comprised of singer/guitarist Noddy Holder (born Neville Holder, June 15, 1946 in Walsall, West Midlands, England), guitarist Dave Hill (born April 4, 1946, in Fleet Castle, Devon, England), bassist Jimmy Lea (born June 14, 1949, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England), and drummer Don Powell (born September 10, 1946, Bilston, West Midlands, England), the group originally formed in the spring of 1966 under the name the In-Be-Tweens, playing out regularly with a mixture of soul and rock tracks. But besides a lone obscure single, "You Better Run" (penned by futureRunaways svengali Kim Fowley), the band never issued any other recordings. By the end of '60s, the group had changed their name to Ambrose Slade and signed on with the Fontana label. Soon after, the quartet hooked up withAnimals bass player-turned-manager Chas Chandler (who had discovered Jimi Hendrix a few years prior), who promptly suggested the group shorten the name to just Slade and assume a "skinhead" look (Dr. Martin boots, shaved heads) as a gimmick.
After several albums featuring few original compositions from the quartet came and went (1969's Beginnings, 1970's Play It Loud), the group began to write their own tunes, grew their hair long, and assumed the look of the then-burgeoning glam movement, joining the same cause championed by such fellow Brits as David Bowie and T. Rex. This new direction paid off in 1971 with the number 16 U.K. single "Get Down and Get With It," which soon touched off a string of classic singles and led to Slade becoming one of the most beloved party bands back home. Slade also utilized another gimmick, humorously misspelled song titles, as evidenced by such singles as "Coz I Luv You," "Look Wot You Dun," "Take Me Bak 'Ome," "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," "Gudbuy t'Jane," "Cum on Feel the Noize," "Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me," and "Merry Xmas Everybody" (the latter of which re-entered the charts every holiday season for years afterward). Several attempts at cracking the U.S. market came up empty (with track listings between their U.K. and U.S. full-lengths differing), although such albums as Slade Alive! and Slayed? are considered to be some of the finest albums of the glam era.
Slade continued to score further hit singles back home, including such correctly spelled tracks as "My Friend Stan," "Everyday," "Bangin' Man," "Far Far Away," "How Does it Feel," and "In for a Penny," but with glam rock's dissolution and punk's emergence by the mid-'70s, the hits eventually dried up for the quartet. Despite the change in musical climate, Slade stuck to their guns and kept touring and releasing albums, as the title to their 1977 album,Whatever Happened to Slade?, proved that the group's humor remained intact despite their fall from the top of the charts. A large, dedicated following still supported the group as they offered a performance at the 1980 Reading Festival that was considered one of the day's best, resulting in sudden renewed interest in the group back home and Slade scored their first true hit singles in six years with 1981's "We'll Bring the House Down" and "Lock up Your Daughters."
Slade received a boost stateside around this time as well, courtesy of the U.S. pop-metal outfit Quiet Riot, who made a smash hit out of "Cum on Feel the Noize" in 1983 that resulted in a strong chart showing for Slade's 1984 release Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply (issued as The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome in the U.K. a year earlier). Slade then enjoyed a pair of U.S. MTV/radio hits, "Run Runaway" and "My Oh My." Holder and Lea also tried their hand at producing another artist around this time as well, as they manned the boards for Girlschool's 1983 release Play Dirty. Despite another all-new studio release, Rogues Gallery, and Quiet Riot covering another classic Slade tune ("Mama Weer All Crazee Now"), Slade was unable to retain their newfound American audience or rekindled British following and they eventually faded from sight once more, this time without a comeback waiting around the corner. During the '90s, a truncated version of the group dubbed Slade II was formed (without Holder or Lea in attendance), while Holderbecame a popular U.K. television personality as well as the host of his own '70s rock radio show. A 21-track singles compilation, Feel the Noize: The Very Best of Slade, was issued in 1997 (re-released under the simple title of Greatest Hits a couple of years later), which proved to be a popular release in England.
In 1999, BBC One broadcast a newly made documentary on the band, titled It's Slade, which featured new interviews with all four members of the band, along with various other musical artists and celebrities such as Ozzy Osbourne, Noel Gallagher, Status Quo, Toyah Wilcox and Suzi Quatro. It was narrated by Radio One's Mark Radcliffe. In 2000, a compilation entitled The Genesis of Slade was released, which contained rare and some previously unreleased material from The Vendors, Steve Brett & The Mavericks and The 'N Betweens. 2000 also saw Holder appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to music and his voice was famously recorded for lift announcements at the Walsall New Art Gallery.
In 2002, Slade II shortened their name to Slade and re-released their album Keep on Rockin' with a handful of new tracks included, retitled Cum on Let's Party. The band also released two new singles, titled "Some Exercise" and "Take Me Home". Both singles were released in Belgium through Virgin Records. An American compilation was also released, titled Get Yer Boots On: The Best of Slade.
In 2003, bassist Dave Glover announced his engagement to incarcerated serial killer Rosemary West. The engagement was called off shortly afterwards and Glover was fired from Slade.
In 2005, Steve Whalley, original singer for Slade II, left the band and was replaced by Mal McNulty, who has sung for the band since. In November 2005, Polydor released a new Slade compilation, The Very Best of Slade, which features two discs which include the majority of Slade singles for the first time on a compilation. The compilation peaked at number 39. A DVD was also released for the first time, featuring a collection of Slade videos and promos.
From 2006 to 2007, music label Salvo remastered and released all of Slade's catalogue, including a four-disc anthology set entitled The Slade Box (Anthology 1969–1991) and a package of all live albums in one Slade Alive! - The Live Anthology. The remastered series also included the release of a new compilation called simply B-Sides, which featured all of the band's B-sides.
In late 2006, UK chart rules changed to allow downloads of old singles eligible to chart, which allowed "Merry Xmas Everybody" to return to the chart. It has re-entered the UK Top 75 every Christmas since then, most successfully in 2007 when it peaked at number 20.
In 2009, a new compilation was released, Live at the BBC. It featured songs recorded for BBC sessions between 1969 and 1972, Radio 1 jingles recorded in 1973 and 1974, and, on the second disc, songs recorded live at the Paris Theatre, London, in August 1972. In November 2009, Universal Music released a new compilation entitled Merry Xmas Everybody: Party Hits, which peaked at number 151 in the UK.
At the beginning of 2011, Classic Rock magazine gave ten predictions for the year. Number seven featured the statement "Slade get back together one last time, and do a farewell show." In 2011, Salvo released a remastered version of Sladest which included a previously unreleased studio version of the live track "Hear Me Calling". On the evening of 21 December 2012, BBC Four held Slade Night, which consisted of a showing of the 1999 documentary It's Slade, Slade at the BBC, and the band's 1975 film Slade in Flame respectively. Slade at the BBC was a new programme – a compilation of the band's performances from the BBC archives throughout their career from 1969 to 1991. The programme was introduced by Noddy Holder himself and featured various new interview clips with him throughout. According to BARB, the viewing figure for It's Slade was 608,000 whilst Slade at the BBC had a total of 477,000 viewers.
After years of working with Lise Lyng Falkenberg, since 2006, Powell's biography Look Wot I Dun - My Life in Slade was released on 14 October 2013, by Omnibus Press (Music Sales Ltd). The book is based on more than 50 hours of interviews with Powell as well as his own 20 years of diaries and notebooks he kept due to his problems with short-term memory following his 1973 accident. Additionally the book featured contributions and quotes from interviews of 28 of Powell's friends, colleagues and family members It looks in detail at Slade's long career and Powell's life, which included booze-ups with Ozzy Osbourne. To promote the book, Powell appeared at a number of Waterstones book signings, as well as a charity "Tea with Don Powell" event, a question and answer session, where Powell discussed his life with Clive Eakin of BBC Coventry & Warwick. It was in support of the National Autistic Society.
In November 2013, "Everyday" was used to advertise the Google Nexus tablet on UK television. The track subsequently re-charted into the top 75 British singles chart the following month, reaching a peak of number 69.