Gypsy Roadhog

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"Gypsy Roadhog"
UK/European cover of "Gypsy Roadhog".
Single by Slade
from the album Whatever Happened to Slade
B-side Forest Full of Needles
Released January, 1977
Format 7" Single
Genre Glam rock, hard rock
Length 3:20
Label Barn Records
Writer(s) Noddy Holder; Jim Lea
Producer(s) Chas Chandler
Slade singles chronology
"Nobody's Fool"
"Gypsy Roadhog"
"Burning in the Heat of Love"
Audio sample
file info · help
Alternative Cover
Belgian cover of "Gypsy Roadhog".

"Gypsy Roadhog" is the lead single from the 1977 album Whatever Happened to Slade by rock band Slade. It was written by lead singer Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea. The single was released in 1977 and peaked at #48 in the UK, spending only 2 weeks on the chart, the lowest number of weeks on the chart for Slade in the 1970s.[1]


The single was the first Slade single released on Barn Records.[2] Since 1970 to 1976, the band had been on the Polydor Records label.

The track is notable for a performance on the children's Blue Peter show. The producers didn't realise the track's reference to drugs. Complaints rose after their performance which led to the record being banned by the BBC.[3]

In a 1989 interview on Sky by Day, Holder spoke of the song's lyrics, stating "The song was all about a cocaine dealer in America but it was actually an anti-drug song."[4]

The b-side "Forest Full of Needles" was originally exclusive to the single, eventually being released on CD via the 2007 compilation "B-Sides" and the remaster of Whatever Happened to Slade.

Subsequent to its original release, "Gypsy Roadhog" has appeared on "The Very Best of Slade" and "The Slade Box". It was also used as a bonus track on the CD single of Slade's last single release, 1991's "Universe".


No promotional video was created for the song whilst the band's UK spring tour of 1977 was a form of promotion. A slightly different version of the song was performed on the UK children's show Blue Peter whilst the song was performed live on the UK show Supersonic, where the band also performed Mama Weer All Crazee Now. The song was also performed on the UK music show Top of the Pops on 5 February, the day the single entered the charts at #48. Due to being banned shortly after, the single dropped to #50 the following week and disappeared from the chart afterwards. The performance on Top of the Pops was never seen again since the original broadcast until January 2012 where it was fully played on BBC4 and unofficially uploaded by fans to YouTube shortly after.[5]

Lea later recalled, to his discredit, the horrendous appearance that Slade made on the ‘Blue Peter’ show. As the song itself had overtones of drug taking with lyrics about ‘powdering noses’, the BBC became alarmed at this and made Slade alter the words and the group had to play the number whilst being in what Lea described as 'an awful open roofed car'. Despite the alternation in the lyrics, complaints were still made and the single was banned.[6]

In a 1989 interview on Sky by Day, Holder spoke of the song being banned after the Blue Peter show performance, stating "The next day after the show, in all the newspapers, Keith Richards had just been arrested for cocaine and there was all things about it in the paper, about using silver spoons and everything. There's a line about a silver spoon in the song, and Blue Peter went berserk when they found out the song was about cocaine. Radio One banned the record and it sank without a trace."[4]

In 1977, the band performed the song on East German TV where the group also mimed several other previous hits, as well as each member being interviewed.

Track listing[edit]

7" Single
  1. "Gypsy Roadhog" - 3:20
  2. "Forest Full of Needles" - 3:30

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, Record Mirror magazine gave the single three out of five stars, symbolising readers to "give it a spin". The magazine also reviewed the single, "As subtle as an iron leg, the Wolverhampton Wanderers return to the fold and just as if there had been no musical progression in the last two years. They could be in the same league as Status Quo if they tidied up their sound. Cedric's ears quivered with excitement, a sensation hitherto reserved for William Wordsworth."[7]

NME magazine wrote "This makes all the right sounds and even has a toe tapping beat, but it isn't a patch on the rude, offensive, and entirely wonderful noise these boys made some four or more years ago. It's careful use of American place names and general blandness could give them that desperately needed American hit, but as far as these isles are concerned, it's just the latest step in their continuing irrelevance."[8]

Melody Maker wrote "I once made the mistake of politely interviewing Noddy Holder and saying how much I liked the band, only to slam his latest single in print. He was furious and as a punishment, Chas Chandler promised to play me all the Slade hits one after another. He intended to prove to me how individual and different-sounding they all were. Unfortunately the demonstration never took place so, although I STILL fondly remember the band's past glories, I do seem to recall having heard this insistent than immediately memorable but McCafferty in full flood gives it the necessary distinction to raise it above average. Chart potential."[9]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1977) Peak
UK Singles Chart[1] 48 2


  • Noddy Holder: Lead vocals and guitar
  • Jim Lea: Bass guitar and backing vocals
  • Dave Hill: Lead guitar and backing vocals
  • Don Powell: Drums


  1. ^ a b "SLADE | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Barn Label Discography - UK". 45cat. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  3. ^ Slade's remastered album Whatever Happened To Slade booklet
  4. ^ a b "Noddy Holder Interview - Sky By Day 1989". YouTube. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  5. ^ "SLADE - Gypsy Roadhog (TOTP 1-20-1977)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Record Mirror magazine 22 January 1977
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ "1977 Press Cuttings". Slade Scrapbook. Retrieved 2016-10-12.