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Jim's John Birch bass

Slade guitars

This bass was Jim's main instrument onstage with Slade from the late 70's through to Slade's demise. And where did this most desirable bass in the world rest after its nightly ordeal at the cruel hands of the once-mighty Jim Lea?

Slade guitars

Slade guitars

These photos are courtesy of the case's new owner, somewhere in America.

Jim Lea's Gibson EB-0

Jim traded this bass with the bassist from Robert Plant's band LISTEN in order to obtain the cherry finish Gibson EB-3 that he would later use with Slade.

Courtesy of 

Courtesy of

These photos courtesy of

Jim Lea's Gibson EB3 - refinished in white

Hmm. A nice bass indeed. A double scratchplate of a style that isn't that common for a Gibson, may have been added by John Birch when it had his pickups fitted. Here you see it in white, instead of its original cherry finish. This was not what was actually intended. It went away to have a few small things done and came back a different colour. Jim had previously mentioned a refinish in passing to John Birch and the great man did it while Jim had it in to have something else done. Jim was apparently mortified. Ooops!

Where is it now?

Slade guitars

Jim with cherry finish EB-3

Slade guitars

Standard Gibson bridge and controls.
Not far off being 'as bought'.

Jim and a John Birch J1 and J2 bass

Slade guitars

Slade guitars

The J1 was a basic instrument. Pictures of Dave playing this also exist.
It is not the bass that was smashed in the Flame film.

Slade guitars

Another sunburst JB J2 bass, possibly on loan to Jim as a spare.
Jim has also carried a natural finish bass similar to this as a spare in 1980.

Jim Lea's Jaydee bass with tremolo arm

Jim used this for a couple of TV appearances (Miracles on 'The Krankies' and 'Superstore'). It also was carried on several dates on the final UK tour, but never plugged in, that I ever saw anyway, during a show. Jim took it back to John Diggins in 2003 to have it serviced.

Slade guitars

The Framus Flame bass - smashed during a backstage row in the 'Flame' film

Slade guitars

Some more very useful info - from Ken Tait :

Hi there, I've just been browsing your excellent site, and being a guitarist as well as a Slade fan I was particularly interested in the pages about Dave, Nod's and Jim's guitars. I was surprised by the inclusion of the Flame guitars as they were only dummies.

Although I cannot answer the questions 'Where are they now?' what I can say is that when they were being 'played' I was about 4 or 5 feet from them! The place was the Hammersmith Palais during the filming of Flame. My friends and myself had answered a call for people to be in the audience at The Rainbow and the Hammersmith Palais. An offer like that is not to be taken lightly, so we quite naturally bunked off school and went.

At the Palais we managed to get in the front row right in front of Dave Hill. When they came onto the small stage I noticed that there was something strange about the Flame guitars. The strings on Dave's one (being the closest) were all the same width. Despite the screaming that was going one I managed to get his attention to ask about this curious feature. Because of the noise it took him a while to work out what I was asking, but the light dawned and he held it up and grasped all six strings between his fingers and waggled them around to demonstrate how baggy they were. At the same time he mouthed "It doesn't matter, it's not a real one". A few minutes later the fact that they were fake was confirmed when he tried to plug a guitar lead into it and discovered that the jack socket was in fact just a hole and the lead wouldn't stay in!

A week or so before that at the Rainbow 'concert', Nod, was talking to us (the crowd that is, not us personally), explaining that they were supposed to be using these Flame guitars back that they hadn't turned up from the manufacture's - Framus.

Of course you've only got my word for all this, I can't actually point at the screen and say "look, that's me!" I missed out on getting my face on screen by about three inches as at the Hammersmith Palias the camera tracked along and stopped right in front of the girl who was on my left (I think you can just see my elbow!). However I can state that if you watch the crowd shots in the Rainbow (where Flame come up through the stage), on Dave's side you should be able to make out something shiny on a pole being waved. It was in fact a 'Flame guitar' that I made, heavily based on the Superyob, and I'm on the end of it. It can also be seen in the album cover - just.

I think that I've blathered on long enough - keep up the good work.
Keep On Rocking

Ken Tait..

The Framus Star bass used in Flame

Slade guitars  

I used to play with a guy who worked in a music shop who offered me a bass just like this, saying with all sincerity that it was the actual one that was used by Jim Lea in the Slade film, 'Flame' .

I had no reason to disbelieve him and the bass came from a reputable source in the Midlands - who also parted with a couple of lovely custom made John Birch guitars.

However, once tried out through an amp, it was declared to be a bit of a plank, so I didn't buy it.

It wasn't that expensive really, I would have got it for a song, but a poor bass remains a poor bass - and any poor bass is too expensive.




The bass pictured is NOT Jim's.

Slade guitars

Jim Lea's Flying V bass

Allegedly a studio favourite for its deep, plummy sound.

This only ever surfaced on TV during the making of the 'Thanks for the memory' video (as in photo) and a TOTP, as far as I can tell.

Very little stage use - I've been told it was used for the encore of 'Get down and get with it' at Liverpool in 1975.

The promo video for 'Thanks for the memory'

Jim has also been pictured with a Fender Precision bass and also a Fender Jazz bass (below)
and a Shaftesbury copy of a Rickenbacker 4001 (in the promo video for Nobody's Fool) around the 'Nobody's fools' period.

Slade gear

It is possible that the Fender Jazz below was a studio instrument. Jim has never used one of these basses of his own on stage to my knowledge. It has been common for Slade to use TV studio-owned instruments for mimed appearances, rather than take their own with them.

Slade guitars

John Birch 'Rickenbacker 4001' type bass
Slade guitars  

The Rickenbacker 4001 style bass used on the 'Top of the pops' show for Slade's 'Cum on feel the noize' appearance was apparently a John Birch bass loaned to Jim by the maker, while his Gibson EB3 was being worked on. Jim did not own this bass either.


Stu :
"The p/u's on the JB Rick are either Magnum's (more likely) or Hyperflux, which is what the Superyob had. Impossible to tell unless you get to see the name engraved between the poles.

The Gibson Thunderbird bass Jim used - as well as Dave's Flying V and Nod's SG guitar used
in the 'Radio Wall of Sound' video and the following TV slots were all hired for the occasion.

From the days of Nick and The Axemen !

Slade guitars

To be identified!!
Jim had a Red single pickup Hofner Colorama in the Axemen before he picked up the bass.

Jim's all-black Fender Stratocaster ....

Slade guitars

Lea used a ARP 2600 synthesiser (on 'Seven year bitch' and other tracks from that era) which was sold on eBay in 2003.

Jim Lea ARP2600 synthesiser

Thanks to Sonic, Stu Rutter and Chris Selby for their help with a couple of things on this page!

2004 Guitar and Bass magazine article on Jim Lea!

For the bass exercises, buy the magazine!

Slade guitars

Thanks to Agent S for the above article!