As December beckons, our Christmas classic playlists will begin booming away with their festive merriment if they haven’t already. One song Brits will no doubt hear over and over again in shopping malls, supermarkets and at parties over the holiday period is Slade’s 1973 hit Merry Xmas Everybody. The band’s best-selling single has sold in excess of one million copies and beat Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday to No 1 that year. But did you know that Noddy Holder’s band have The Beatles’ John Lennon to thank for their most famous track?
Slade guitarist Dave Hill spoke with Jackie Brambles on her Greatest Hits Radio show this evening when he made the reveal. The 76-year-old confessed that his band only went into a US studio after Lennon had cancelled a solo recording session that day.
The rocker shared: “We were in New York in the summer of 1973 – it was 100 degrees, it certainly wasn’t Christmas! – and we didn’t’ really know this song, but when John Lennon cancelled his time in Record Plant Studios we went in just to do this Christmas number. The studio is in an office block, so we were all in the foyer at half nine in the morning trying to get the vocals going and singing ‘So here it is Merry Christmas…’ in front of a load of American businessmen.”
It even turns out that an instrument Lennon had planned to use was included in the original recording of Merry Xmas Everybody.
Hill continued: “John Lennon had this organ in the studio and if you listen to the intro of the record you can hear his organ on it which is really nice. None of us knew the immensity of that song – we just recorded it and let our manager take the tapes back to England and mix it. We hadn’t heard it for months and when it finally did come out, I thought ‘Oh that sounds really good’ but we didn’t know how big it would be. Although 1973 was a massive year for us with Cum On Feel the Noize – we had so many big songs that year, but the Christmas song was something special. As soon as the public got to hear it, it just flew.”
Within the first week of release, Merry Xmas Everybody had sold 500,000 copies. The demand was so big that Polydor records had to have 250,000 copies sent from Los Angeles and 30,000 a day from Germany.
The single remained in the charts for nine weeks until February 1974 and was certified double platinum in December 2021.