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Jim Lea Q&A / March 2017

Hi Jim.
I too have suffered with prostate cancer. I had mine out completely in April of last year, in an 8 hour operation, at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, about two months after my diagnosis. I wasn't offered Bracytherapy. I have had three 'undetectable' quarterly PSA readings since then. I can't thank the Christie enough.

More advice about this is at - I was utterly shocked when I read about your diagnosis. I hope you get the best recovery that you can.

My PSA level that triggered concerns was 19 (though when they examined my prostate, they said it was pretty fried and that my biopsy didn't show how bad it was). The hospital said a PSA of 4.5 was a top limit before they start to worry. I have heard of a 10000 PSA that has been reduced to 0 by treatment. I was curious about your initial reading. Reading anything about your experience that you are comfortable to release may prompt some guys into getting themselves checked out.

Also, How much of a leap was it for you to play guitar instead of bass at the 'Jim Jam' show?

All the best,

Hi Ian,
Yeah! We’re in the same boat except that my PSA was 53.6 on presentation. The biopsy was showing a prostate packed with the bad guys... luckily nothing showed up elsewhere but it made me a high risk case. If you’re having urinary problems of any sort especially a sudden excruciating need to pee, go to your doctor.

As for Jim Jam, I had a month from confirmation of the gig to work out what I was going to do. As a Who/Hendrix fan I wanted visual and auditory excitement. Jim Jam on reflection was my interpretation of important musical influences.

How did your parents react when you told then you were joining The 'Nbetweens ?
Can you remember what bass guitar you played at The 'N Betweens' audition?

Hi Chris
I didn’t tell them I was going to the audition but I’d got the job and they were up in arms.
The bass I used was a Bill Wyman early stones Framus.

Hi Jim,
* I was wondering why you put those photos of yourself on the pledge site asking info about dates etc. I particularly liked the one where you are on stage in Coventry and you are wearing an old battered cloth cap that I used to wear everywhere in those days. I still have it BTW although the moths have had a go at it.
* Also do you remember i sent you a VHS tape of Jim Jam that I filmed, it was my only copy and you said Id get it back, still waiting lol ! Hope to see ya again soon. Nomis

Hi Nomis,
I didn’t understand why the photos were put on Pledge. I have a good memory but I could only have a stab at a couple of them. (writes bemused of Wolverhampton). The VHS is somewhere but I don’t have it to hand. Hope you’re happy and well.

Over Slade's entire recording career, are there any album tracks that Jim would have liked to have seen released as a single?

After ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and the massive success of 1973 it was hard to find a follow up quickly. I wanted ‘When The Lights Are Out’ (not because I sang it) but I recorded it as the Dummies and it was playlisted at Radio 1 and record of the week on Radio Luxembourg too.

Why has there never been a Slade Ballads album? I did suggest it many years ago via the Slade fan club, cannot recall which band member said they thought it was a good idea.

Hi Sidari
Slade Ballads. Hmmm. I’d have to think about that. Interesting.

Do the BBC have the whole of the Reading set in their archive? The EP that came out after Reading contained at least one track that was not broadcast at the time?

Yes the whole set was broadcast on the Tommy Vance show so it does exist somewhere out there.

There is some great tv/video footage out there. Why haven't Slade released a decent DVD/Blu-ray compilation? It would be nice to see a decent and extensive compilation to surpass the 2005 The Very Best Of Slade release.

I wasn’t consulted about the 2005 DVD but I heard that the songs stood up really well but the DVD as a package was not so hot.

I'd like to ask Jim... Which Slade album are you most proud of and why?

The trouble with ‘old school’ recording schedules was that it was a permanent highly pressurised treadmill of songwriting followed by expensive ‘old school’ recording studios, so really it all flew by. That was followed by touring. ‘Flame’ had ‘How Does It Feel’ and ‘Far Far Away’ both were conceived as being especially for the movie and both stood out.

‘How Does It Feel’ was the first song I ever wrote as a young teenager. I don’t think I have a favourite album but I know I gave every one all that I could give. I took it very seriously.

Hello Jim, is there in the archives recording the 3 dates of the concerts for the realization of the album "Slade Alive"? There were over 7 songs playing these days, it would be great to hear them! (Like the song "Coming Home" for example) - from Gérard France fan

I’m sure there would be left over tracks but I don’t know what state the tapes would be in after all this time. That plus Nod is not keen on anything else coming out.

What three Slade songs are you most proud of?

How Does it feel, Far Far Away and Coz I Luv You.

Hi Jim - Did you ever get the letter I sent you about 18 months back? Some old family history stuff with my ancestors The Leas of Staffordshire from the early 1800s and wondering if we are distant cousins ? Best wishes with your health.

I do have distant cousins. Loads of them - but going back to the 1800s would be too tenuous to contemplate.

Hi Jim! First of all I sincerely hope that you will get well soon. I have never heard any official comments about Slade Alive 2 from any of the band members over the years. It was released in 1978 and never mentioned again. I have never heard the band play better before or since and I think it deserved a better fate whether it was a genuine live album or not. What are your thoughts about that album and how would you rate it? Cheers, Marcus Wright, Sweden

Slade Alive 2 was a genuine live album that was released when we were in a very uncool patch of our career. I never play old stuff so I don’t know what it would sound like now. Most live albums are generally recorded in the studio with added reverb and audience. That’s what people regard as great live albums. My own fave live album is ZZ top (Tejas) from memory half is live at least.

Did the band, Chas or the record company ever consider releasing 'Do We Still Do It' as a single? It is popular amongst Slade fans and thought it could have made the top spot on the charts? She Did It To Me was too good to be a B side. In hindsight, how do you feel about the song being held over to be released as an A side in 1975?

Hi Mark. ‘Do We Still Do It’ was never considered as a single but Chas really liked it. ‘She Did It To Me’ was a B side. Chas considered it to be A side material but resisted as it would have followed ‘Everyday’. Ballad after ballad. Good song though! While I was writing I would always feel what would be the single.

I'd like to ask Jim what his favourite Slade tune is and what it was like being Skinheads.

The song I was most excited about on release was ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ it entered at no 1. First song to do it since the Beatles. That’s what it was built to do! Job done. Being Skinheads was strange and a little dangerous at first but after a while it felt good to be different.

Jim, You have appeared on a few occasions as a guest artist, is there anyone you would like to work with i.e Macca, Neil finn or the Gallaghers ?
How did Mamas JasJe record come about?

I have been asked to collaborate by quite a few big names over the years but I always put our band first which made it a no no. Mama’s Jasje came via my brother Frank who sent a demo of one of my songs to the band. They snapped his hand off and I believe it did very well.

Hi Jim. Firstly, I've really enjoyed all of your recent candid interviews. it's great to hear from you after so many years, also loving all of the new music and hopefully more to come (String theory?). As you said, "the older I get the better I was" but looking back what were you're biggest regrets about your career with Slade, what would you change if you could do it all again?

Thank you for all of the great memories (no pun intended) of so many great gigs, especially those in the late 70s/early 80's. Wishing you all the best with your health issues and please keep the music coming, no-one does it like you do!!

Over the last 6 months ive come to regret not going back to the States after I was ill in 1984. We did one gig with Ozzy and that was it. We should have gone back!!!!! The emergence of MTV would have made a huge difference. I agree with your late 70s gigs comment.

Hi jim - I've always wanted to ask you how did you perform Thanks For The Memory live regarding bass and piano I think I can remember you starting off on piano and then switching to bass guitar returning to piano for important keyboard parts at some shows, for me Newcastle City Hall '75.......... thank you very much Jim

Two stage keyboard tracks ‘Thanks For The Memory’ and ‘How Does It Feel’ Dave played bass on ‘How Does It Feel’ and Nod did bass on ‘Thanks For The Memory’

First of all , Slade were the best live band ever --- Better than Springsteen , Thin Lizzy , Quo , The Who etc ..... So my question may seem a bit cheeky ( it's not meant to be ). With a few exceptions , most successful band have an out and out lead guitarist , or at the very least an iconic one ( Angus , Townshend ). Did you ever consider that the band would have stood a better chance in the States if they had a more formidable lead guitarist , or do you think that the "Wall of Sound" was an even better weapon ??

Firstly the four of us made for a brilliant band and the way Nod put it (as he was lead guitar in The Mavericks) was that we had three lead guitarists. Dave was certainly an iconic lead guitarist without doubt. Our rebel rousing in the States was misunderstood but now everyone does it all over the world it’s our legacy.

Hi Jim. I've always enjoyed listening to you speaking about your life and times with Slade. Are there any plans for an autobiography?

Not Yet

Hi Jim, What about the 1971 album that has been talked about on this forum. Were there plans for a studio album after Play it Loud and before Slade Alive? In that case, which songs were planned for that one, except the natural choices CILY and GDAGWI. Why didn’t it happen? Thanks for all the fantastic songs you have written so far. I wish you a good recovery

I never liked the studio at first because it was so dry. Chas had the idea for ‘Slade Alive’ and I was so relieved. ‘Get Down And Get With It’ followed by ‘Coz I Luv You’ along with the album pointed to our direction and destiny. Thank heavens.

Hi Jim, Do you think that Slade get/got the respect they deserve as THE greatest rock band or were you considered as just a glam rock band? I seem to remember reading that you didn't like some of the colourfull clothes and maybe would have preferred to have acted more seriously and maybe been treated more as a serious rock band?

* How do you consider yourself and Dave & Don as musicians compared to other large rock bands-you hear of various artists as being the greatest guitarist or drummer but never anyone from Slade? ( I have my opinion on this and I know who I rate as the greatest guitarists and drummer).

* I'd love you to do an autobiography, Dons' I thought was totally honest and very revealing on a lot of facts. Did you read Dons' book and did you find any of it uncomfortable reading?

* You play most instruments, but can you play the drums or have you ever tried or did Don ever try and teach you and did you ever try and teach Don to play guitar?

* Finally, Don said in his book that you never owned a suit and often borrowed his because you were a bit "careful "with your money-is that true at all??!! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of these questions Jim.

I would have agreed with you 20 years ago about the ‘respect’ but as time has gone by we have become cool and our live power is acknowledged. The people who were fans have grown up and now have the radio and journalistic jobs are on our side. Back then we were frowned upon as young yobby upstarts which is what we were supposed to be. For me it was always about the music. Virtuosity at certain points became a big thing in rock but the biggest names ever were The Beatles and The Stones. No virtuosity but shit hot bands. We were the same. I rest my case.

I have heard good things about Dons book. The goalie scoring the goals. Good for Don. I helped him out a few times when he was stuck for info. Don must be the loudest drummer on the planet bless his cotton socks.

During my working life the tax man was on my back. So I was “careful” with my money.

Dear Jim What inspired you to write a song called Poland ? Always loved your dress-sense on and off stage - minimum effort- maximum effects And like me you seemed to keep your favourite stuff forever- is your famous Air Force leather sheepskin jacket still with you ?

‘Poland’ was written in Poland and yes I still have the flying jacket which is not in good shape.
I’ve never mastered ‘Flame’ , I wasn’t involved in that. To be honest I don’t often listen to what I’ve done once it’s done.

Hi Jim. Just wanted to say that Slade were my first luv and 40 odd years later I am still playing and loving the songs that I grew up with. I thank you for that. My question is probably the same as most in do you have any more new material planned for release and also is there any chance that you might do an album of your own version of Slade songs. It's been great to hear you back on the radio, I like the Therapy album. Best wishes with your health. Thanks for the memories

Yes! Hopefully there will be more, health permitting.

What do you do in your spare time?

What spare time?

* Hi Jim, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Are there any record producers or studio engineers from the past or present you would have liked to have worked with in the past or indeed the future ?
* Can you confirm that when both Radio Wall of Sound and Universe were recorded for release by Slade that both Dave and Don actually played on the tracks or were they simply your solo recordings with the inclusion of Nod's vocals only ?
* Did you ever feel under any pressure from the A&R men at RCA to come up with a certain style of material for release by the band ?
* Thinking back now, do you think that Slade's credibility was tarnished by releasing things like the Crackers album or indeed the Okey Cokey as a single ?

Recording is nothing like it used to be. It’s all DIY now. Many of the old school engineers and producers are twiddling their thumbs these days. With ‘Wall Of Sound’ and ‘Universe’ I had already recorded them but we all contributed to the Slade end product. There was always A & R pressure from above but that’s the business. Money matters.

‘Okey Cokey’ and ‘Crackers’ were a cred problem for me personally.

Hi Jim, I just recently discovered this site on Facebook. I just wanted to say the the songs you and nod wrote shaped my taste in music. Without slade were one of the best live bands ever. I never had the chance to see you live the closest I ever got to that was watching Top Of The Pops on a Thursday evening?

Hi Gerry. A shame that you missed us live. We were really something even though I say it myself. Many big name acts were apparently terrified of playing on the same bill.

Hello Jim and greetings from Finland! You was my idol since I was a teen, now I'm (soon) 26 and you are my hero in music! Started learning bass n guitar playing when a kid, because I thought wanna become as good musician as you are! Been recording some own jam sessions over the years. I'd like to ask you what bass guitar you most like? And what things gave you inspiration for songs? Thank you for the good music Jim!

I have to have a short scale bass as I have small hands. I played a Gibson E.B 3 in Slade but it was stolen. A copy was made which I have used ever since. The inspiration just comes to anyone with a creative mind. Open your eyes and ears and you are influenced.

When Therapy was first released why did you release it under the name James Whild Lea and then when re-released Jim Lea?

James Whild Lea is my real name. Over the years I put out various bits and bobs but I never wanted to take anything away from the band. Thus pseudonyms. Not many know my real name so it was ok. On re-release it was Jim Lea to avoid confusion. The reviews have been fab. The reviewers knew my musical history.

Hi Jim, How would Jim feel about doing a musical around Slade music, rather than an Abba type production something more unusual? There was supposed to be a Danish company did something on the lines of Oliver twist (bizarre but different). Things like My Oh My (swing version) show that the music is versatile enough. I'd like to wish you all the best health wise; and that your upcoming treatment goes well.

I agree but there have been so many duff musicals it makes me wary.

* Have you ever heard of an artist called Owsley. He did a great couple of albums end 90s, early 00s, that shared some similarities to Therapy?
* Another question. You had a great writing partnership with Nod. Is there anyone else you world have liked to collaborate with, and were you ever made any offers for a collaboration that you turned down?

Sorry I never heard of Owsley.
Yes I have had plenty of people. Some very famous. I think I’m better off on my own now though.

At the 1987 Slade convention, Nod was asked if they would do a farewell tour if and when the band called it a day. He said yes. When you and Nod decided to leave in 1992 was there ever any talk or discussion about a final UK tour? Do you wish there was? seeing as by then you hadn't played live in the UK for nearly a decade?

I always think that final tours are like attending your own funeral. I personally would not want to be there.

Hi Jim. This question relates to the image you had as the MIDLANDS MISERY ... Did your decision to study Psychology come from that part of your perceived image ? And did it help to make you understand what it is that makes you tick ? And , do you wish you'd had the opportunity to do learn Psychology when you were much younger , helping you to navigate all the stresses of being in a working band ?

I was never a misery. (I loved male banter when we were in the van early days but I slept a lot) I think the ‘misery’ tag may have come from never smiling on pics (a la posh spice and Becks or Bill Wyman) I have too much of a rubber face to smile.

The Psychology stuff helped me evolve from being shy to being confident. The course was an exercise where I discovered that I already understood the psycho dramas and machinations of being human. It was extremely useful.

Hello ol' chap, and by the way Phil McGarrity says hi as well. The Therapy album is a great album. when you approach doing an album, whether it was in Slade or now a solo venture, do you have a set story line to hang the compositions round to begin with, or does it fit together as the period of time goes by. All the best Jim

Very insightful Craig. Separate songs for Therapy made themselves into the psycho concept that it became.

Hi Jim, Slade were the ultimate live rock act! With this in mind, what would be your perfect set list? Thanks in advance, Paul

I can only answer from a personal point of view. When I did the Robin 2 ‘Jim Jam’ I chose tunes that everyone in the band knew but never realised that all of my influences for excitement were in there. Slade would have to play the hits which is limiting.

Dear Mr. Lea, I would like to know the correct lyrics in the chorus of "Leave Them Girls Alone", cos there are different versions of that lyrics in the internet. Thanks in advance and greetings from Austria.

Hi Mani. I haven’t heard that since we recorded it whenever it was. Sorry can’t help but thank you for your interest and thanks for listening.

* A couple of questions. Have you ever considered a song writing/producing/recording partnership with someone else? For me, the two obvious candidates are either Paul McCartney or Jeff Lynne. I think you working with either of them would produce some cracking results. (This doesn't mean I don't like your solo work....I love it! ).
* Secondly, in one of your very recent radio interviews, you mentioned you had re-designed parts of your home. Given that you gave up a potentially successfully career as an artist to join a pop group, it seems like you still have a keen interest in artistic pursuits, other than music. What other things have you designed, or have you done any actual painting, sketching or other fine art? I'd love to see some examples if you have. Take care Jim, it's good to have you bak! KOR Di

Jeff would be great but he is his own man apart from his dream come true Traveling Wilburys. Macca is always on the lookout for collaboration but the Lennon connection makes it problematic. The creative mind (of which there are billions) will pounce on anything and make it happen.