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"Accident, betrayal, and more": the indestructible spirit of Don Powell, Slade drummer

"Remember: all you can do is swing until you drop. There's still a way to go. Look at me!"

Slade legend Don Powell and his story: facts and interviews

He has traded eighth decadebut remains an indestructible legend. Don Powell, the legendary drummer Slade, was standing at Peterborough Station in December 2018 on his way to a concert when his legs buckled. The man collapsed to the ground, unaware that the tendons in both knees had torn. When he was rushed to the hospital, a thousand miles away from his wife and home, his thoughts went back to an accident that happened 45 years ago...

To this day, that tragedy remains a blur. In 1973 Slade were glam rock superstars, and had just played a big concert at Earl's Court when 26-year-old Don and his fiancée Angela Morris were in a car accident.

The Terrible Crash of 1973

Don Powell
Don Powell

As a result of the accident, Angela died, and Don broke both legs and five ribs, knocked out his teeth, and suffered severe brain damage. He was unconscious for a week. When he returned to work shortly thereafter, he had to be lifted and removed from the drum kit. He never regained his sense of taste and smell, and he still suffers short-term memory loss. But all this is a small price to pay compared to the loss of his wife-to-be. Don recalls:

"It's terrible to say, but at first I didn't remember anything about her until my father told me about the accident and who Angela was. Desperate, I visited a neurologist in New York. "Don't try," he insisted. "There's no point. Your brain has erased the trauma and continued where it left off. Stop torturing yourself. It's time to accept it. It's gone."

Don took his advice. But the consequences have not disappeared anywhere..

"I still wake up in the morning and can't remember where I am," he admits.

Don Powell
Don Powell

The 2018 crash brought him back to a disaster four decades ago because he hasn't been to the hospital once since. Were the knee injuries related to his car accident? Not at all..

"The specialist knew I was a drummer. He told me that these injuries usually happen to soccer players and athletes. My tendons burst because I play like a maniac, with my legs and hands."

Betrayal

slade 4
Slade

Don was at the center of the most brilliant musical and cultural phenomenon of the 20th century. glam rock movement. Slade is rightly considered the pioneers of the genre, and the most successful British band of the seventies. It seems that this "magnificent new foursome," filling the gap after the Beatles, had been through a lot, and what Powell certainly did not expect was Betrayals from a comrade's side...

Noddy Holder and Jim Lee left the lineup in 1992. Don and Dave Hill were still part of the band until the latter wrote Don in 2020 informing him that he was no longer Slade's drummer.

"Out of the blue, I get this email saying I'm fired. I desperately tried to contact Dave to find out why he left me. He never responded... The anxiety was killing me."

Don Powell
Don Powell

Three weeks after Dave's email arrived, Don rescheduled stroke.

"I have no doubt that it was because of that letter. Thank God my stepdaughter, the doctor, was with us at the time. I was trying to pick up my cup and must have looked strange. Emilia recognized the scary signals and said: "Take him to the hospital!"

Overcoming difficulties

Don Powell
Don Powell

He recovered, but not for long. Resting at home in Silkeborg, the Danish paradise of forests and lakes where he keeps his favorite boat, Don felt right side pain. It turned out to be cancer.

"Doctors found a tiny tumor in the left side of my colon... But when I went in for surgery, the cancer had grown to the size of a golf ball!"

Fortunately, nothing seems to threaten Don Powell's life today. Does he attribute his ability to overcome physical and mental difficulties to his a cheerful character and positive attitude?

"Well, I think it certainly helps to get through adversity. It's a working class law. If you don't work, you don't eat. My father, Walter, worked all his life as a slave in a foundry. My mother, Dora, worked for an electrical components company. The place where we lived was called Black Country because of the smoke. I was forced to find a way out! I had no time for sadness."

Don Powell
Don Powell

Does he ever look back at his contemporaries and think that they time to rest?

"Never! I remember when my father was 76 years old-he was the age I am now. He was a retired, bored old man. I thought that was it. It scared me. I've been through a lot in my life and I've always come out of the struggle a winner. Remember, all you can do is swing until you fall. There's still a way to go. Look at me!"

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