The Big Man behind Slade and their success:
Chas Chandler

Everyone who knows anything at all about Slade's long career will know that there is one associated name that comes up more than any other and that is that of Chas Chandler. Chas was, of course, the man who found Slade when they were no more than a promising club act with a good singer, a strange set list and a very ballsy sound - and whatever potential it was that they were endeavouring to hide so well ... he could somehow see it. Without Chas Chandler's guidance, there is no question that the group would never ever have developed the way they did or have had anything approaching the same prospect of massive success.

Chas Chandler was born Bryan James Chandler in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, on December 18, 1938. He went to school locally, but was soon drawn towards the thriving pop music scene on Tyneside. Chas started his working life as a turner in one of Newcastle's shipyards and later joined The Alan Price Combo in 1963, which featured Hilton Valentine on guitar, Chandler on bass and John Steel on drums.

The group played regular Saturday night sessions at Newcastle's Downbeat Club and also at the Club A Go-Go. Eric Burdon had joined them on vocals and  Mickey Most signed them up and changed their name in 1964 and they were to become a serious British alternative to the dominant American music artists of the time, when their hit 'House of the Rising Sun' topped the charts around the world. At four and a half minutes in length, EMI resisted its release, but were grateful later on, when the single became such a massive success. It sold over a million copies in America, where the group toured successfully on the back of it.

It was a gritty antidote to the rather tame and soppy excuse for rock music that had been in the charts up until then. A lot was owed to Eric Burdon's great voice, Alan Price's organ and Hilton Valentine's guitar, but Chas' bass underpinned everything solidly and fluently.  

He was no bass virtuoso and didn't want to be, as any really good bassist knows that their job is to keep it solid and play the low notes firmly and authoratively - which is just what he did. He was very modest about his bass playing and refused to play in front of Jim Lea, because he was supposedly 'embarrassed about his so called shortcomings'.  Whatever he felt about his own playing, some of his bass lines still are marveled over by players today - try to keep up with his intro to 'We gotta get out of this place'. What a great piece of work. 

'Baby let me take you home', 'Gonna Send You Back To Walker', a cover of Timmy Shaw's 'Gonna Send You Back To Georgia', and 'I'm Crying' were their other big hits in 1964.

Alan Price had left the group following an apparent dispute about the songwriting royalties from 'House of the rising sun' -  a song that none of them actually wrote, but to which Price was said to have claimed the rights. The group carried on regardless and were no less successful without him. The group had several hits all over the world until Eric Burdon left in 1969. 

When there was no group to fill his time, Chandler turned to applying all he had learned in the music business to finding some talent and developing it to its full potential. On the band's travels he had seen and heard many acts that he believed he could handle better than their managers.

While in a New York coffee bar, he heard Jimi Hendrix playing a guitar and was so taken with his talent, he approached him about taking him to London. The emigration was not immediate. But shortly after bringing Hendrix to London, he launched him on a career that was to make him a legend. Hendrix made his first appearances at cunningly chosen and important venues in London, where Chas had lots of influence. 

The likes of The Beatles, along with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend (all very highly regarded and flamboyant guitarists at that time, just as they are now) were totally flabbergasted by what they saw and heard. Hendrix was readily accepted by rock's royalty at the time and the following chart success was inevitable. Chas helped him to put together his band, 'The Experience' and the rest is history.

Hendrix eventually left The Experience behind and parted company with Chandler. Shortly before Hendrix's premature death, he had talked to Chas about reviving his fortunes by going back under his wing and getting himself together again. Sadly, he didn't make it back to Chas.

Chas' next smart move was to take on management of Ambrose Slade. He guided them into writing songs, cutting their hair (along with Keith Altham, who apparently actually came up with the idea) and took them to world-wide success. He produced their best records and they were also their most successful records. 

Of course, as Hendrix had done, the band parted with Chas, as they were not prepared to take the blame for writing a few duff singles and an album that would have been right for its time five years later ('Whatever happened to Slade').

I actually met him once at Wolverhampton Civic Hall and I got his autograph. He was standing at the side about halfway back on the right hand side and I recognised him instantly. He looked about 8 feet tall. He was very nice and was pleased to sign an autograph and was obviously chuffed to see Slade in front of a full house on their home turf, which is just what they deserved.

It remains a metter of record that Chas tried to persuade Nod and Jim to dump Dave Hill and Don Powell in favour of other unspecified and presumably 'sexier' musicians. This was one of the major sticking points that led to the final parting of the ways with the band. He argued with them over some of their recordings - he didn't see the point of the awful 'Knuckle Sandwich Nancy' (one nil to Chas) for example.

It's quite sad that Chas and the band parted company after all the success they had seen with him as their manager. A lot of people would say that that if there was a definite flash-point that could be identified, then that was possibly where Slade lost it. They never recaptured that success, despite valiant attempts and their own attempts at self-management appear only to have assisted their eventual demise.

Chas also helped negotiate Slade's RCA deal (described as the band as 'a very sweet deal'), which he certainly didn't have to do.

Chas went on a 'never again' tour with The Animals in 1977 (to promote their 'before we were so rudely interrupted' LP on his Barn label) and again (!) in 1983. He even played alongside Alan Price for old times sake.

Chas was good enough - he didn't have to do it - to coax Slade back together (and to twist Dave Hill's arm up his back when he flatly refused to have anything more to do with Slade) to play one last gig before a big crowd at Reading festival in 1980. We all know what that led to.

Chas was the first to sign Nick Van Eede to his label  for a single 'Rock'n'roll fool' / 'Ounce of sense' (Barn 2014 128, 1978). He put Nick out on tour with Slade. Nick later formed the immensely successful band Cutting Crew.

The total of 67 hits from the Animals and the other bands that he had managed, shows that he certainly knew what he was doing.

The 11,000+ seater purpose built Telewest Arena, Newcastle (formerly the Newcastle Arena) was the last great venture of Chas (and his partner in Park Arena, Nigel Stanger). It opened in November 1995 with Basketball and Ice Hockey, and the first concert was on Thursday December 7th 1995 featuring David Bowie.

Since its opening in November '95, the Telewest Arena has quickly established itself as a superb venue and major North East landmark, alongside the Tyne Bridge and Hadrian's Wall. It has already played host to millions of visitors to concerts, exhibitions, conferences, Super League Ice Hockey and Premier League Basketball.

Concerts - 11,000 
Basketball - 6,500 
ICE SHOWS - 5,500

Some of the biggest names in the entertainment world have paraded their talents, featuring the likes of: Oasis, Shirley Bassey, Wet Wet Wet, Phil Collins, Simply Red, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, AC/DC, Elton John, Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance and the internationally acclaimed Riverdance, Disney on Ice, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Cher - to name but a very few.

Chas died from a heart attack on July 17, 1996 aged only 57 years. He was survived by his wife Madeleine, a former Miss UK, by their son and two daughters, and by a son from a previous marriage.

His funeral took place on Monday, July 22, 1996 at St George's Church, Cullercoats, a stone's throw away from the Chandler home.

It followed a private cremation attended only by his family and was attended by many of the figures he had worked with over the years; Slade, Nick Van Eede, Jimi Hendrix's father, Al Hendricks (the correct spelling). The Buddy Holly music that Chas loved so much was played to those gathered.

According to Chris Charlesworth, when various of Chas' friends stood up to talk about him Noddy referred to Chas' ability to argue long into the night. At his recent 50th birthday party, Noddy and his former manager were, at 5 am, the last to leave, propping each other up, still arguing over what was wrong with the music industry. "We'd been having the same argument for 20 years," said Noddy. Many hilarious 'Chas' stories were exchanged, and it was evident that 'the big man' – Chas was 6' 4" – was held in great affection by anyone who had the good fortune to spend any time with him.

Chris Charlesworth, who wrote about Chas' funeral for Record Collector, wrote a most affectionate and moving piece and I have taken a number of the above details for this page.

To quote him directly : 'Chas Chandler loved rock and roll and those who played it, and he dedicated his life to them. He was immensely proud of his Geordie roots, a plain-speaking, honest and hard-working man, and he could cut through bullshit like a knife through butter. His legacy will linger on in the music of The Animals, in the extraordinary records he made with Jimi Hendrix, and in the cheers that will ring out as future generations of rock stars appear on stage at the Newcastle Arena. I hope they build a statue of Chas directly outside the building'.

I don't think you can say fairer than that.

Melody Maker - October 7, 1972

Chris Charlesworth talks to CHAS CHANDLER, ex-docker, ex-Animal, ex-manager of Jimi Hendrix and now manager of Britain's hottest band, Slade

"One day I had a call from a guy who told me about this group called Slade and that they wanted a manager.

I went down to see them at the Rasputin Club in London and they knocked me out. I was impressed as when I first saw Slade as when I first saw Jimi Hendrix. "I wanted to find something different from the Blues. The Animals had been mainly blues and Jimi was the same thing but Slade had a ball on stage. After watching them work I had to sign them". Chas signed them up and shortly afterwards left Stigwoods to form his own company and concentrate entirely on Slade. He has no plans to manage any other acts.

"Slade were very young when I first met them - much younger than the Animals when we came to London - and they were getting screwed just like we had been. As far as publicity was concerned they weren't very successful in the early days but they were still earning good money. The business was taking every opportunity to knock them because of the skinhead thing, but they were slowly building up a very big following". Slade, originally on the Fontana label switched to Polydor and the rest of the story is too recent to recount again. America is Slade's next goal and already they have received rave reviews from around the country - unlike T. Rex.

"Slade are far and away better musicians than the Animals ever were. Hilton Valentine couldn't play a guitar like Dave Hill and I could never hope to be able to play as well as Jim Lea. I have a guitar now and I bring it out once a year. "My attitude as a manager is to get as much success and as much money for the act I am managing and my experiences as a musician have helped me a lot. I never try to analyse my own actions which are mainly inspirations based on experience.

"That's how I picked up Slade".