Slater was born in Schefferville, Canada in 1961. At the age of about 6 months, he moved with his parents to Hanford, California.
Slater is married to his second wife, Scarlett Quinn, with whom shares a son, Grover. Slater also has four other children from his previous marriage.
In 1977, Slater moved to Edinburgh, Scotland on his own, and there joined the regimental band of the 1st battalion the Royal Scots as a bass trombonist. He also got his first taste of minor stardom whilst standing in for the lead singer of Northern Irish R&B band Otis and the Elevators.
In 1983 after leaving the army, he attended the National Centre for Orchestral Studies, after which he joined the jazz orchestral collective Loose Tubes. Over the next few years he was the bass and tenor trombonist of choice for the likes of George Russell, Carla Bley, Andrew Poppy, El Sonido de Londres, Billy Jenkins, Django Bates and Andy Sheppard. During this time he also worked as a session musician recording and arranging for The The, The Style Council, Fairground Attraction, Julia Fordham and the Rolling Stones.
After a gig at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London with Loose Tubes, Slater was approached by Rob Partridge, the then head of the Antilles Label on Island Records. At this time Slater and a fellow loose tuber, John Eacott had also been singing and writing songs for their funk band project called Microgroove. Their USP was an electric tuba played by Oren Marshall. They released one album called The Human Groove in 1988.
In 1993, shortly after Norman Cook, a.k.a. Fatboy Slim, had remixed one of Microgroove's tunes, ("Walkin'") they teamed up to form Freak Power and went on to have a top three hit single in the UK with "Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out". Freak Power released two albums, Drive-Thru Booty and More of Everything for Everybody, also on Island records. As Cook's Fatboy career took off, Slater also went his own way and released music through Skint under the alias Dr. Bone. He also contributed vocals to and topline EDP's Sweet Music.
He has also recorded with Dimitri from Paris and Rui da Silva and has contributed vocals to Fatboy Slim's albums, and Krafty Kuts. After a break of about five years from playing the trombone Slater was lured back by Gary Crosby from the Jazz Jamaica All Stars. Since then he has toured with Sam Rivers, Hermeto Pascoal, Roy Nathanson's Jazz Passengers, Hugh Masekela, Dub Pistols and his own band BigLounge. He also recently appeared with Elvis Costello and Debbie Harry at the London Jazz Festival.
In 2011, Slater formed an electro-Swing act called Kitten & The Hip, featuring his partner Scarlett Quinn on lead vocals. Kitten & The Hip featured in the auditions for The X Factor 2014. The judges decided to unanimously vote Scarlett through as an independent contestant, and she got as far as boot camp.The Human Groove (1988), with Microgroove
Big Lounge (2002)
With Kitten & The HipHello Kitten (2014)
With Freak PowerDrive-Thru Booty (1995)
More of Everything for Everybody (1996)
With Loose TubesLoose Tubes (1985)
Delightful Precipice (1986)
Open Letter (1988)
Billy Jenkins, Scratches of Spain (1987)
George Russell, The London Concert (1990)
Carla Bley, The Very Big Carla Bley Band (1991)
Iain Ballamy, Mirrormask: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2005), Molecular Gastronomy (2007)
Dub Pistols, Back to Daylight from the Album Rum & Coke (2009)
Monkey Business (band), Id Song and London Dealing from the Album Twilight of Jesters? (2009)