Notebook: New platforms for a showbiz legind

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The Independent Online
I HAVE seen the future, and it is the past. First it was flares, now it's platform shoes and those tight,

skinny-ribbed sweaters with horizontal stripes, next it will be those shirts with long, floppy scalloped collars. Yes, the Seventies are back, already. At this rate we shall be feeling nostalgic for last week by the middle of next year.

But, the Seventies: an anonymous decade, you might think, an uneasy breather between peace, love and Thatcher. But think again, and remember those heady, early days of glam rock; and remember Noddy Holder, the man with a face from a Brueghel and a voice that made a shout sound subtle. He wore a top hat with mirrors on it did Noddy, and Rupert Bear trousers; his little friend Dave dressed up in all sorts of shiny things, too. They were in a group called Slade, they came from Wolverhampton, but they made some cracking records, glam with attitude, and misspelt: 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now', 'Cum On Feel The Noize'. In the early Seventies, let me tell you, we knew how to enjoy ourselves.

And now Noddy is back to tell you all about it in a new Radio 1 series, beginning tomorrow night and fetchingly entitled Glitter and Twisted. Among the memories of these temps d'or et perdu will be Bolan and Bowie, the platforms and space boots, Lieutenant Pigeon and 'Mouldy Old Dough', deeleyboppers - those headbands with eyes on springing stalks attached - and, of course, that great band Chicory Tip, authors of the seminal 'Son of my Father', and the not quite so celebrated 'Good Grief, Christina'.

'It was a really fun time. If you didn't take it too seriously it was very enjoyable, the music and the clothes. I think that's maybe what's wrong with today's culture, everybody takes everything too seriously.' In Noddy's view, glam rock was a reaction against all those serious guitar bands, twanging on remorselessly, backs to the audience; more generally, a reaction against the economic gloom of the time. On Noddy's reading, Edward Heath was the founding father of glam rock.

He has grown into his face now, and the voice is used mostly between records as a disc jockey in Manchester, where he has a weekly show on Piccadilly Gold. Noddy lives a lot in Cheshire now, where restaurants advertise their wine lists as 'over an inch thick', but not a lot of it has rubbed off. Piccadilly Gold is pronounced in the Black Country way as Piccadilly Goald. 'Oim a shoawbiz legind, oi am,' he tells his audience, amiably.

'People like Noddy,' says Marc Riley, Glitter and Twisted's producer. 'You don't see them thinking, 'oh, that arse', like you do with some of the others. The wonderful thing about Slade was that they had fun but they made wonderful records as well.' Indeed: three instant number ones in one year, 1973, never done before or since, including 'Merry Xmas, Everybody', 2 million sold, still on the list. Noddy has cred. And now Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have a spoof 'Slade in Residence' spot in their television series: Noddy has cult, too.

Slade last played live in 1985. They have recorded since though, and even as you read this, little Dave, who became a Jehovah's Witness, is touring Europe with Slade Mark 2. Noddy wouldn't play; he's fed up with touring. You needed discipline, touring, as well as having fun, says Noddy; he was careful, and invested. But he will still tell you about Frankfurt in 1964, beers and brandy chasers, and pounds 25 a week, very good money in those days, let him tell you. Ah, yes, the Sixties. On the way out of the BBC studios in Manchester, Noddy is proud to spot a secretary in platforms. He isn't wearing them himself. 'I'm too old for that now,' says Noddy, 47.

(Photograph omitted)