Jim Lea


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photograph of James Whild Lea

James Whild Lea (born 14 June 1949, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England) is an English musician, most notable for playing bass guitar, keyboards, violin, guitar, and singing backing vocals in the English rock band, Slade.

Lea was the nearest thing Slade had to a trained musician. Influenced by French jazz-violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Lea's first musical love was the violin. He played in the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra, and gained first class honours in a London music-school practical exam, before moving on to piano, guitar and finally bass guitar.

He first played guitar, and then bass, in the schoolboy group 'Nick and The Axemen', then went for auditions for a local band, 'The N'Betweens'. Drummer Don Powell, guitarist Dave Hill and vocalist Johnny Howells were already members, and when Noddy Holder joined soon after, the foundations for Slade had been laid. Howells later left the band.

Lea was Slade's principal songwriter, along with Holder. In most cases Lea wrote the melodies, and Holder concentrated on the lyrics.

In the 1980s Lea also produced all of Slade's recording sessions (except for some of the singles), and became an increasingly dominant creative force within the band. It was not uncommon for him to handle Holder's guitar parts on record. Lea also produced an album for singer / actor Gary Holton and he played all instruments (except drums, played by Geoff Seopardi) on Holton's cover version of "Catch a Falling Star", which was released as a single.

Lea left Slade after Holder's departure from the band in 1991, being of the opinion that Slade was all four of them or nothing. He studied psychotherapy, but has not taken it up as a full-time career.

Lea is still creating music and has released singles under odd pseudonyms such as 'China Dolls', 'JimJam', 'The Greenfields Of Tong' and 'Whild', all via the Trojan group of labels, which are owned by Slade's management. The most noticeable release of the time was The Dummies album A Day in the Life of The Dummies, which gathered together all the demos, and single tracks, that he recorded with his brother, Frank Lea, and wife Louise. In early 2004, it was confirmed that he was in the recording studio, working on a new solo record. In 2007 he finally released his first solo album Therapy which is available from his website.

Since Slade stopped touring in early 1984, Lea has performed live only twice; once for a local protest against a motorway development in his home area, and once again for a charity event at the Robin 2 venue in Bilston, near Slade's old local pub, The Trumpet.

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