It was late summer 1973 when Noddy Holder first hollered “Iiiiiit’s Chriiiiiiiistmaaas!” An instant classic was born. Merry Xmas Everybody was released 50 years ago this Christmas and went straight in at number one in the UK singles chart, holding off other festive favourites including Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and Elton John’s Step Into Christmas.
Recalling how this iconic track came about, Holder told The Big Issue: “Slade bass player Jim’s mother-in-law challenged him to come up with a Christmas song, like a Bing Crosby song that would last forever. Jim sort of pooh-poohed it at first. But then he took it as a challenge.
“In 1967 I’d written a very hippie, psychedelic song called Buy Me a Rocking Chair and I’d played it to the band. And they all just said ‘rubbish’. So in the bin it went.
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“But six years later, Jim remembered this song. He took the chorus and wrote a new verse. It sounded Christmassy and none of us were really sure it was the right thing to do at the time. But John Lennon had a big Christmas hit a couple of years before [Happy Xmas (War Is Over)] which made it a bit cooler. So I went away to my mum and dad’s, back into my old bedroom with a bottle of whisky. And I wrote all the lyrics that night.
“We recorded it in New York. John Lennon was in the next-door studio. We actually used his keyboard for the intro of the record. We listened to it and it was bloody great. This was a hit record. Chas took it to the record company in London and they said, we’re gonna put everything behind this. This is a multi-million seller.”