Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Jim Lea biography

James Whild Lea was born on June 14th 1949 at The Melbourne Arms pub in Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, England as the second of four children to engineer Frank Lea and wife Edna. Siblings' names: Raymond, Frank and Joan.
Jim was the nearest thing Slade had to a sensitive artist and trained musician. At the age of 10 he started learning violin and in 1960 he graduated with honours from the London National College of Music. He went on to pass the grades I to V with distinction at the Royal School of Music and at the age of 12 he joined the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra where he played the violin for 3 years as youngest member of the orchestra.
Jim went to the Codsall Secondary Modern and in 1962 he joined his first band. He played bass in school band Nick Vance and The Rocking Axemen and did all the arranging of the Axemen's music.
When it was time to leave school Jim applied for four art colleges as art, besides music and French, was his top subject. At the same time he spotted an advert in the paper for the job of bass player with The N'Betweens - his idols of the time. He turned up with his bass guitar in a plastic bag at the audition, but he could play the bass very fast, as his fingers were supple from playing the violin. He was offered the job, which meant turning pro at the age of 16. Within the next week his acceptances came through for all the art colleges, including Hornsey College of Art in London, but to his parents' dismay Jim chose The N'Betweens.
Jim was Slade's principal songwriter along with Noddy. Jim composed most of the group's music and wrote some of the lyrics, too. He played the piano/keyboards as well and was the lead singer on a few Slade songs. He started producing all of Slade's recordings and became an increasingly dominant creative force within the band. He even handled Noddy's guitar parts on record quite often and sometimes Dave's, too. Today he owns Slade's music jointly with Noddy.
On stage Jim's main instrument was a John Birch bass whereas a Flying V bass seemed to have been a studio favourite. Jim also played a Jaydee bass with tremolo arm and a Gibson EB3, which - to Jim's mortification - was refinished in white at one point from its original cherry finish.
Jim took the music very seriously and was horrified by Dave's eccentric stage costumes, which he thought would ruin the credibility of the band. All in all Jim had quite a pessimistic outlook on life, which led to the Slade road crew nicknaming him "Midland's Misery". In a 1999 interview in "The Record Collector", he explained it this way: "I was never happy. I don't think I ever am. It's a personal thing."
In 1977 Jim formed his own record company, "Cheapskate", with his younger brother Frank and started rmaking records under various psydonyms such as Greenfields of Tong, China Dolls, The Clout, Gang of Angels and Jimbo and Bull. The most noticeable release was The Dummies' album "A Day in the Life of The Dummies" (1991) which gathered together all demos and single tracks that he recorded with his younger brother Frank and wife Louise. His latest realise was "I'll Be John, You'll Be Yoko" under the name of Whild in 2000.
In 1991 Jim moved into record production, producing Slade recordings as well up until the Slade break-up in 1991. Jim attended college to study psychology in 1997, but the year after he started writing and recording again. From 2000 everything was put on hold for 2 years which Jim spent helping his mother care for his father, who died in 2002.
In 2002 Jim performed at the "Robin 2" in Bilston where he did a charity show with two musicians picked for the event, calling themselves Jim Jam.
In 1972 Jim married seamstress Louise Ganner, his first and only girlfriend whom he had met when he was 16. They have 2 children, Kristian and Bonny, as well as 2 grandchildren. Jim and Louise live in a secluded area of Brewood, Staffordshire, England.


At 9:22 PM, Blogger Marie said...

You say Jimmy Lea was born at the Melbourne Arms in Codsall.
I do know that he lived in Codsall/Bilbrook but I heard that he lived next to the Grange Pub (Did this change it's name?)

At 1:59 PM, Blogger Lise Lyng Falkenberg said...

Sorry, I don't know if it changed it's name. I just know that Jim's parents had lodgings at the Melbourne Arms at the time, and that's why he was born there. Also wasn't the Melbourne Arms located in Wolverhampton and the family moved to Codsall later on???

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim married Lou in 1973 not 1972 (19th March to be exact). And I believe he has 3 brothers - Frank, Ray and John, not a sister called Joan.

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in the same street as jim, Cherry
Tree Lane Bilbrook,he does have 3 brothers Ray who is older than JIm Frank and Johnny

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Susan Bland said...

I went to school with Jimmy and Louise (who borrowed my original dress to go to the Princess Margaret awards)and Louise gave me a large make up bag, pink - Louise bought it into the Crown (The Square) where I was working at night, full of expensive things to say thank you (I still have that bag after all these years). His Mom had her hair done at at Toni's which was at the beginning on the right of 'Broadway' where they lived for many years. I remember he used to practice in Joeys Lane Scout Hut, Louise (Ganner) and myself used to sing 'Where have all the flowers gone' Louise was a window dresser at Beatties in Wolverhampton. Jimmy was so shy back then, had a party and he sat in the kitchen all night keeping himself to himself. Lou and Jim were the most unoffensive people at Codsall Sec Mod.

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Brisbane Australia now,left the UK in 1963. Lived in Joey’s Lane for many years.
Was browsing through the internet and saw Jimmy Lea’s name appear. I was in his class at Codsall Secondary Modern School, I remember his name. Interesting reading about your life Jimmy. I was 14 in 1963 also,my name is Gillian.
Nice reading about you.
Best wishes from Brisvegas.


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