Slade Noddy Holder

I Wrote That: Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody

Noddy Holder tells M the fascinating story behind their classic festive hit.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 24 Dec 2011
  • min read

Released in 1973, this enduring Christmas hit still dominates the airwaves in November and December every year. Former Slade frontman Noddy Holder recalls how Merry Xmas Everybody came to be.

'The idea for a Christmas song came from [co-writer] Jimmy Lea's auntie, who suggested we do a perennial-type song like Happy Birthday. The song that eventually became Merry Xmas Everybody was written in 1967. It was a hippy-trippy thing and the chorus went: "So won't you buy me a rocking chair to watch the world go by / Buy me a looking glass to look me in the eye-eye-eye…"

'Anyway, one night in 1973 I was staying at my parents' in the Midlands after a few drinks down the local pub. The whisky bottle came out when I got in and I rewrote that earlier song in two hours, using the same music for the chorus but changing the words and adding the verses. I wanted it to paint a picture of a typical working-class Christmas, you know, granny getting up and having a dance and worrying about how much room there is with all the relatives around.

'I played it to Jim and he didn't really say much — he never did — but I knew he secretly liked it. Then I played it to our manager Chas Chandler, who was Jimi Hendrix's old manager, and he liked it.

'We cut it in the US at the end of the hot summer of 1973. The studio was in an office block and we sang the chorus in the stairwell next to the studio to get that echoey effect. Four English blokes singing about Christmas… the office workers must have thought we were mad!

'Then we took it back to England and played it to Polydor, and they flipped. It went straight to number one and sold one million copies in the first week. It was up to that point the fastest-selling single ever in the UK. We knew we had a big hit when we wrote it, but for it to be still going strong so many years later… well, we never imagined.'