How Slade Finally Got a U.S. Hit, Then Began Falling Apart
Slade entered 1984 poised to enjoy their greatest Stateside success, after years of futilely trying to break into the U.S. It all started with Quiet Riot.
At the start of the decade, few bands seemed less likely to score a crossover hit than Slade, who had squandered their hard-fought U.K. fanbase after spending years focusing on American radio. They entered the '80s at loose ends, but just when it looked like Slade was ready to fade into the sunset, the band received an offer to sub for a missing Ozzy Osbourne at the 1980 Reading Rock Festival, earning themselves a new generation of hard-rock fans in the process.
Important as the Reading gig was, it wasn't exactly a cure-all for Slade; subsequent singles failed to build on the momentum established by the show. By the time they entered the studio for their 10th album, The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome, executives at their U.K. label mandated an additional round of songwriting sessions in search of a hit.
While the band hunkered down in pursuit of more radio-friendly material, they got a little unexpected help from the American record buyers that had eluded them for so long, thanks to Quiet Riot's cover of Slade's 1973 European smash "Cum on Feel the Noize." Issued as a single from Quiet Riot's 1983 Metal Health LP, it proved a No. 5 pop hit. After Metal Health topped the charts, the band's label, Epic Records, brought Slade into the family.
Slade's first Epic release, a reworked version of Kamikaze titled Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply, arrived in American stores in April 1984, and while it wasn't the cross-format smash that Metal Health had been, it offered the band the opening into the American Top 40 it had been struggling to find for 15 years. The album peaked at No. 33 in the States, and a pair of singles ("Run Runaway" and "My Oh My") hit No. 20 and No. 37, respectively.
Unfortunately, Slade's roller coaster ride wasn't over yet. The band booked a tour with Osbourne to try and capitalize on their success, but it was derailed when multi-instrumentalist Jim Lea fell ill with hepatitis C. It turned out to be the band's final tour, and their absence from the road made it difficult to drum up support for subsequent studio albums. Starting with 1985's Rogues Gallery, Slade's record sales entered a downward spiral that bottomed out with the release of the original lineup's final LP, You Boyz Make Big Noize, in 1987.
But even if it didn't quite bring Slade the lasting worldwide success they'd worked so hard to earn, Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply was the right album at the right time. It was a well-written and smartly polished set of songs that topped off the band's rock sound with pop production perfectly in step with current trends. When singer Noddy Holder walked away in the early-'90s, effectively dissolving the group, he moved on with years of fond memories and only a few regrets. Slade reformed without Holder and Lea in 1992, but a larger reunion doesn't seem to be in the cards.
"I can’t get the four members of Slade to be mates again," Holder later told the Daily Mail. "I got us together three years ago but it was a disaster and all the old grievances came out, like money and things that were said years ago. It’s sad we can’t laugh about our amazing 25 years together. I wish the band had been bigger in America. They weren’t ready for us, but it doesn’t actually haunt me – it’s just rock ’n’ roll."