Ex-AC/DC Drummer Chris Slade Remembers How David Gilmour and Jimmy Page Hired Him on Same Day, Explains Why Supergroup With Page Ended

Chris Slade comes up as one of the most underrated names of rock ‘n’ roll. In the 1960s, he recorded for Tom Jones. Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, he had worked with Uriah Heep, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, David Gilmour, and The Firm, a supergroup featuring Tony Franklin, Jimmy Page, and Paul Rogers. And, most importantly, Slade was a member of AC/DC in the early 1990s and for a brief period on 2015 and 2016.

AC/DC - Let There Be Rock (Live at Donington, 8/17/91)

In a recent interview for Ultimate-Guitar.com, Chris Slade recalled the 1980s and how he got some of his biggest gigs. Asked about how supergroup The Firm started, he recalled:

“Well, this is a funny story. So, one day, I’m at home and the house phone rings. I was in the middle of breakfast with my wife at the time, and say, ‘Hold on, let me go grab the phone,’ so she sips her coffee, looks up at me, and says, ‘Alright, dear.’ Right, so I pick it up, ‘Hello?’ ‘Chris, how are you?’ ‘Fine, thanks. Who’s this?’ ‘Oh, Dave Gilmore here.’ ‘Oh. Hello, Dave. How’s things?’ So, I might have not believed it but thought for a second, and it clicked. I knew the sound of his voice because I had met him before.”

“So, at the time, I had left Heep, and I was now working with Mick Ralphs. We were trying to form a band, but it was going nowhere, and fast. So, I was curious, but I had no real idea what he wanted, ‘Chris, I’m going on the road, and I’d like you to play drums.’ ‘Oh, well thanks, Dave. I appreciate that.’ But the thing was, while the band with Mick was going nowhere, I still had to do the right thing. You know, with me honesty’s the best policy. So, I said, ‘Well, I’d love to, Dave, but I’m playing with Mick Ralphs. We’re great mates, and I can’t just up and leave him.’ ‘Oh, well great. It’s alright then because Mick’s actually going to be in my band too. He’s the one who suggested you.’ ‘Well then, that’s great. I’m in, Dave.’ We wrapped up the call, and I put the phone down, and said to my wife, ‘We’re going to the pub to celebrate, I’ve just got a gig with David Gilmour.'”

But that wasn’t the only gig he got on that same day. Here’s what happened after celebrating:

“So we went down to the pub, had a few drinks, and came back an hour or so later. I kid you not, literally as we walked in the door, the phone rang again. I pick it up, and raised the receiver to my ear, ‘Hello, Chris. Jimmy Page here.’ I had never met Jimmy, and never heard his voice, so this time, I wasn’t so sure, ‘Oh, yeah right. Who is this? You’re messing with me now, aren’t you?’ ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, it really is Jimmy Page.’ ‘Alright, ‘Jimmy Page,’ what can I do for you?’ ‘Well, I’m forming a band with Paul Rodgers, and I’d like you to play drums.’ Well, suddenly, I realized that this really was Jimmy and that this was real, ‘Well, Jimmy, you won’t believe this, but just an hour or so ago, I committed to doing a tour with David Gilmour.’ I was expecting him to say, ‘Oh, well, that’s fine. We’ll have to find someone else.’ Instead, he said, ‘Okay, we’ll wait for you.’ I couldn’t believe it. I simply could not believe it. So, I did the tour with Dave Gilmour, got off the road, called Jimmy, and it went from there.”

The Firm-Radioactive

Elsewhere in the interview, Slade was also asked whether he and bassist Tony Franklin saw The Firm as a short-term project. He explained:

“No, I can’t say that I did. I knew it was a good band, of course. I mean, you had Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers, and Tony Franklin, so to me, the sky was the limit. As far as I knew, we had no illusions about where it was going, and we didn’t think it was a one-off or short-term thing at all. I can definitely say that if that was the case, I had no idea. I can’t speak for Tony, and maybe he did know that it was a short-term thing for them. A big reason that we broke up was that Led Zeppelin came back into the equation for Jimmy. There were reunion talks, and they didn’t know if they were going to try and tour or not., you know. Jason Bonham had gotten involved, and he certainly was under the impression that Led Zeppelin was going to probably go on the road again.”

Asked whether he had any indication that the band was going to end, Slade answered:

“No, there was no indication. It just happened one day. I think Jim and Paul, they realized they had come to the end of it. I was really upset with the decision, as I knew that band had potential, but it was really something that Tony and I simply could do nothing about. If Paul and Jimmy decided that was the end, then that was it. What could we do? How do you replace one of those guys, let alone both? The answer is simple – you don’t. Still, I’ll always look back on those two albums very fondly. People say to me often, ‘Why didn’t you continue? Those records were great. You should have made more.’ I always say, ‘Well, I know. I would have loved to continue on with The Firm, but it’s something that was simply out of my hands.’

Photo: Philip Nelson (Philip Nelson & Chris Slade), Jimmy Baikovicius (David Gilmour Argentina 2015 (cropped)), Avda (Jimmy Page at the Echo music award 2013)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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