Cropped Hair, Bovver Boots, Flat Caps & Glitter

In this accompanying piece to the cover story of  his Shindig! issue #51 SLADE story GREG HEALEY continues to ponder on the band’s growth and change from faux skinheads to million selling owners of teethy grins and platforms.



By shaving the heads of Slade and dressing them in the bovver boy clothes of the skinhead Chas Chandler and Keith Allen unwittingly unleashed an image that the more gentile sensibilities of the the home counties and the BBC were not ready for. It was too edgy, too aggressive and too redolent of no go slums and the rougher parts of the nation.

When Noddy, Don, Dave and Jim stepped out of Harry’s Hair in Soho they were joining a subculture that, from it beginnings in the London of the mid-60s, was resolutely working class and unflinchingly disruptive and violent. Originally associated with West Indian culture, and in particular the rude boys that sprang from Jamaican, Kingston, the British skinhead was originally, and at time Slade adopted the look, an apolitical movement for discontented youth. Whether it was the disruption of gigs through fighting or simply making their intimidatory presence felt on the high street, the Skinhead represented something no Government welcomed: disorder.

The Britain of chaotic slums was being swept away in the clearances as successive Governments pursued a vision of neat modernisation. Back to backs with outside toilets and washing lines that hung from window to window across the street were being replaced by open grassy vistas and sweeping crescents of high-rise concrete. In this land of order and restrained and carefully delineated plenty the worker was supposed to be happy, content and pliant. The skinhead movement was a vivid reminder that, beyond the planning committees of central and regional government, was a mass of people whose decisions and choices were not always entirely rational. Read more Cropped Hair, Bovver Boots, Flat Caps & Glitter