James Whild Lea
(born on 14 June 1949, at the Melbourne Arms Pub, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England) is an English musician, most notable for playing bass guitar, keyboards, violin, guitar, singing backing vocals and occasional lead vocals in the English rock band, Slade.
Jim Lea

Jim Lea was the nearest thing Slade had to a trained musician. Influenced by French jazz-violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Lea's first musical love was the violin, which he took up at the age of 9. He attended Codsall Comprehensive School - now Codsall High School.

He played in the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra, and gained first class honours in a London music-school practical exam, before moving on to piano, guitar and finally bass guitar.

He first played guitar, and then bass, in the schoolboy group 'Nick and The Axemen', then went for auditions for a local band, 'The N'Betweens'. Drummer Don Powell, guitarist Dave Hill and vocalist Johnny Howells were already members, and when Noddy Holder joined soon after, the foundations for Slade had been laid. Johnny Howells later left the band.

Jim Lea, along with Noddy Holder, was Slade's principal songwriter. It was Jim Lea that generally wrote the melodies, and Holder who concentrated on the lyrics. In the 1980s he also produced all of Slade's recording sessions (except for some of the later singles), and became an increasingly dominant creative force within the band.

It was not uncommon for him to handle Holder's and even Hill's guitar parts on Slade records.

Jim Lea also produced singer / actor Gary Holton and he played all instruments (except for the drums, which were played by Geoff Seopardi) on Holton's cover version of "Catch a Falling Star", which was released as a single.

Jim sang the lead vocal on: 'When the lights are out', 'Radio Wall of Sound'. Jim also shared lead vocals on: 'Don't talk to me about love', 'Leave them girls alone' and sections of 'Ready to explode'. He did not sing lead vocals on any other released Slade recordings.

Jim Lea left Slade after Holder's departure from the band in 1991, being of the opinion that Slade was about all of the four of them or nothing. He studied psychotherapy, but has not taken it up as a full-time career.  Sightings of Jim Lea are few and far between, as he lives a closely-guarded private life and does not attend music business related functions unless he is pretty much obliged to.

The family moved from their home, 'Redroofs' on Warstones Road in Wolverhampton, partly because too many fans discovered his home address. He initially stayed in the locality, but now spends the majority of his time at his other home in London.

His lack of commercially-released product in recent years had been a major source of frustration to Slade fans, who expected him to carry on churning out material.

It was not widely known however, that Jim took some time out from his career to act as a carer for close family members who were particularly unwell. Jim has always kept his family life quite private.

Jim Lea continued to create music and released a number of singles under odd pseudonyms such as 'China Dolls', 'JimJam', 'The Greenfields Of Tong' and 'Whild', all via the Trojan group of labels. The most noteable release of the time was The Dummies album A Day in the Life of The Dummies, which gathered together all the demos, and single tracks, that he recorded with his brother, Frank Lea, and wife Louise.

He has done an amount of serious outside production work, with and without Holder, in Slade's dry periods, including: The Mission (under the pseudonym The Metal Gurus), The Redbeards from Texas, Gary Holton, Girlschool, The Crybabys.

He also appeared on violin on the song 'You'll never sleep', from Magnum's 'Princess Alice and the broken arrow' album, which was released in 2007.

Since Slade stopped touring in early 1984, Jim Lea has performed live only twice; once for a local protest against a motorway development in his home area, and once again for a charity event at the Robin 2 venue in Bilston, near Slade's old local pub, The Trumpet. The majority of the recording of that show has been packaged in as a bonus disc with his Therapy CD.

Jim also invested in a property business. In early 2004, it was confirmed that he was in the recording studio, working on a new solo record. In 2007, he finally released the results of that activity - his first solo album, 'Therapy' which was made available on CD. He later released a live album of his 2002 Robin 2 show as a download via his website. That live album was later repackaged as a bonus disc with the Therapy set on his own JimJam label.

Wiernerworld have recently reissued his Therapy album in 2016 with a total of six bonus tracks (see the Therapy page on the site). Many Slade fans had never previously heard of it, so poor was the promotion at the time of its original release. The promising and very current-sounding 'Am I the greatest now?' was selected as a lead track for a download-only single in 2016.

In 2017, Jim announced the release of a further download-only single, 'All coming back to me now'. The 'For one night only' DVD of his live show from 2002 was set for release in November 2017.

Jim has said that he has two projects that are due for release, the second of those being an album called 'String Theory' which is expected in 2018. Details of the other project are being kept under wraps for now.

Jim mentioned in a 2015 interview that he was being treated for inoperable (but manageable) prostate cancer.

All fans are very concerned about how Jim is doing - so it was good for him to give fuller detail about it on 21.2.2017 in a fairly upbeat interview with BBC WM DJ Paul Franks. Here's what was said:

Paul Franks: “How’s the health, Jim Lea, at the moment”?

“I’ve got prostate cancer and I was diagnosed 2 ½ years ago. I don’t mind talking about it at all. I was going to keep it secret at first but realised it was just impossible – you would have to lock yourself away and do a David Bowie on it or something. People were just finding out you know… But that word - ‘cancer’ - sends shudders through our nation, the world”…

Paul Franks: “There’s a lot they can do now though”…

“There is a lot they can do yeah. I’d got high risk prostate cancer. I’d got a prostate packed full of it. But it hadn’t spread into my bones. Therefore it hadn’t got into my lungs and the rest of it… So I was lucky with that. I had this brachytherapy. I had half my treatment – I went up to Leeds for that. They were very good to me. We love Leeds – we still go up there now – we go back to the hospital for them to check me out. So that all worked out really well.

But I’m also on these injections – and it’s hormone therapy. They’ll be a lot of men out there and maybe their wives who’ll understand this, but with the hormone therapy I get tired. I was born tired. With my years in the band a lot of it was difficult for me because I was always very tired. So having this hormone treatment has really pushed me over the edge. I’m due to finish in August this year. But it will take a year for me to supposedly to come back to normal. But a lot of people never do. So I just hope I come out the other end.

I’ve been told to exercise a lot – which is what I do anyway. I’m a fit bloke. I’m 68 this year and I’m fit for my age. So I’ve done well out of it. A lot of people I know are not around anymore. People are just slipping away with this stuff, and we all know what’s been happening in Showbiz. It’s been terrible. It makes you realise how vulnerable we all are.

Paul Franks: “It’s good to see you looking so well”.

Information about prostate cancer can be found here
and also on Ian Edmundson's website here.

Jim Lea signature

James Whild Lea - Therapy

Jim Lea

Jim in 2000 (photo copyright Getty images)

See the gear page of this site


1991  The Dummies - A Day In The Life Of The Dummies (CD / LP).
2007  James Whild Lea - Therapy CD - Some copies were issued later with a signed artwork poster.
2007  James Whild Lea - Replugged / 'Official Bootleg' Of Jim Jam, Live At The Robin 2 16th Nov 2002.
2016  Jim Lea - Therapy (2CD with 3 bonus tracks and Robin2 live disc).
2016  Jim Lea - Therapy (2LP in gatefold sleeve with six bonus tracks).
2016  Jim Lea - Therapy (2LP 'white label' copies with six bonus tracks).
2017  Jim Lea - For one night only (DVD).

1979  The Dummies - "When The Lights Are Out"
1980  The Dummies - "Didn't You Use To Use To Be You"
1981  The Dummies - "Maybe Tonight"
1982  China Dolls - "One hit wonder" / "Ain't Love Ain't Bad"
1985  Jimmy Lea - "Citizen Kane"
1990  The Clout - "We'll Bring The House Down"
1994  Gangs Of Angels - "Hello Goodbye"
1995  Greenfields Of Tong - "Poland"
1996  Jimbo feat Bull - "Coz I Luv You" (production)
1999  Whild - "I'll Be John, You Be Yoko"
2017  Jim Lea - All coming back to me now.
2017  Jim Lea - The smile of Elvis (promo re-recording).
2018  Jim Lea - Lost in space (radio edit) as download
2018 Jim Lea - Lost in space 6 track EP



Jim Lea of Slade 2017