Dave Hill

Dave Hill
Dave Hill
Birth name David John Hill
Born 4 April 1946 (1946-04-04) (age 65)
Holbeton, Devon, England
Genres Glam rock, hard rock
Occupations Musician
Instruments Guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Years active 1966–present
Associated acts Slade

Dave Hill (born David John Hill, 4 April 1946, Holbeton, Devon, England)[1][2] is an English musician, who is the lead guitarist and backing vocalist in the English glam rock group, Slade. The music journalist, Stuart Maconie, commented "he usually wore a jumpsuit made of the foil that you baste your turkeys in and platforms of oil-rig-derrick height. All of this though paled in comparison with his coffure, a sort of demented tonsure with a great scooping fringe. He looked like a glam rock version of a medieval monk".[3]


Early life

Born in Devon the son of a mechanic, he moved with his parents to Penn, Wolverhampton when he was only a year old. There he attended Springdale Junior school and Highfields Secondary school. He bought his first guitar from a mail order catalogue and received some guitar lessons from a science teacher at his school. He then formed a band called 'The Young Ones' with some school friends. Upon leaving school he worked in an office of the firm Tarmac for over two years.


He originally played with drummer Don Powell in a band called The Vendors. The Vendors changed their name to The 'N Betweens, met bass player Jimmy Lea and singer Noddy Holder, whereafter Slade was born.

Money was tight when the young Hill started playing, and right-handed guitars were much cheaper than left-handed ones, so even though Hill is left-handed, he played and still plays guitar right-handed. Hill's best known guitar was the "John Birch Superyob" that was built in 1973. The guitar was used by Madness guitarist Chris Foreman in the video for Madness' song Shut Up and is now owned by Marco Pirroni of Adam and the Ants. It became a vital part of Hill's image, just like his huge platform boots, his broad grin, the fringes and the outrageous costumes.

Hill stated he felt his guitar work and costumes helped compliment his apparent lack of stature at only 5" 6'. He could find neat catchy rifts, but surprisingly most often left guitar solos out of Slade's big hits altogether. He wrote an effective instrumental track on Slades 1981 heavy rock LP "Till deaf us do part". Hill once broke an ankle when leaving stage in his 6 inch platform boots. A lively performer on stage, he and Lea helped present Slade's always strong stage presence.

Hill was known as the class clown of the band, and his bizarre costumes and antics led to some friction with the more serious Lea. His Metal Nun outfit being an early seventies infamous example. This led to an alleged show-down in a BBC dressing room before a recording of Top of the Pops where Hill replied to Lea's repeated criticism of his dress by saying "You write 'em Jim, I'll sell em!". By the 1980s his image had sobered down somewhat helping develop the band's image. He also did not do as well financially from Slade as Lea and Holder, who as the principal songwriters commanded more royalties.

In 1989, Hill formed his own group Blessings in Disguise featuring Holder, Ex-Wizzard keyboard player, Bill Hunt, Craig Fenney and Bob Lamb.[4] The debut single, released in 1989 for the Christmas market was a cover of The Everly Brothers "Crying in the Rain" , backed by a Hill/Hunt composition, "Wild Nights".[5] The record was a commercial failure. The band also recorded a cover of the Elvis Presley song "A Fool Such As I" which wasn't released.[6][7] The final single, "Chance to Be" was composed by Daniel Somers and Colin Baines and unlike the first single, did not feature Holder on vocals but a little known female vocalist. The b-side was a track written by Hill entitled "You're the Reason that I'm Strong". Released in 1990, the single was a charity record intended to raise money for Queen Alexandra College for the Blind in Birmingham.

Originally, Hill attended the launch of a £2 million appeal to raise funds for the Birmingham Institute where he heard a song called "A Chance to Be", sung by the blind and visually impaired children. Hill was so moved by the occasion that he agreed to perform and produce the recording of the song. The two writers of the song were staff at the institute. Ex-Shakatak vocalist Norma Lewis, local singer Michael Ryan, Hill and the children took several hours to record the song which was later engineered and produced by Hill. The b-side "You're The Reason I'm Strong" again featured Lewis on lead vocal and was written by Hill. Hill's band name "Blessing in Disguise" was picked as the group name.[8][9]

Recent years

Slade finally split up in 1991, but Hill decided to carry the group on as Slade II. Don Powell joined him and the band has continued to this day with various lineups. In 1997 the name of Slade II was shortened back to Slade. The band has released the album Keep on Rockin' , which has also been re-packaged as Superyob, and also as Cum On Let's Party!

He embraced the notion of a yob culture. As well as the references to "Superyob" above, Hill, since a young age used the numberplate "YOB 1" on his cars. The most famous of these was a silver Jensen.

Hill married his wife Jan in Mexico City in the 1970s, and they have three children: Jade, Bibi and Sam. Hill and his wife have embraced the Jehovah's Witnesses faith.[10] They live in Lower Penn, Staffordshire, England, where Hill occasionally teaches music at Lower Penn School and Penn Hall School.

Hill was known to date a number of groupies in the seventies, and dated Sable Starr, Lori Maddox, Queenie Glam and Geraldine Edwards, the inspiration for Penny Lane in Almost Famous. He mentioned in a 2002 interview taking Geraldine Edwards to the Polo Lounge as a celebration of her graduating from high-school in 1975 and throwing a three-day party at the Sunset Marquis Hotel afterwards.

In November 2003, XFM radio producer Karl Pilkington jokingly referred to his girlfriend as looking like Dave Hill out of Slade, on the Ricky Gervais Show, after she had her hair cut.

In December 2005, Hill appeared in the Channel 4 TV documentary, Bring Back...The Christmas Number One.

Dave Hill features in the Slade biographies, Slade by George Tremlet, Feel the Noize by Chris Charlesworth and Holder's autobiography Who's Crazee Now.


  1. ^ Plymouth, Flete House Maternity Hospital
  2. ^ BBC - Devon - Entertainment - Slade star's Devon roots
  3. ^ Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider With Roadies (1st ed.). London: Random House. p. 34. ISBN 0-091-89115-9. 
  4. ^ 7" vinyl single of Crying in the Rain sleeve notes
  5. ^ "Blessings In Disguise Featuring Noddy Holder And Dave Hill - Crying In The Rain / Wild Nights - Mooncrest - DISGUISE 1". 45cat. http://www.45cat.com/record/disguise1. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  6. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/4061906_orig.jpg
  7. ^ Slade International Fan Club newsletter July - August - September 1989
  8. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/4671561_orig.jpg
  9. ^ Slade International Fan Club newsletter July - August - September 1991
  10. ^ Brown,Craig (March 03,2005). "Way of the world". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/craigbrown/3615307/Way-of-the-world.html. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 

External links

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