Slade's Dave Hill marks 50 years of 'Merry Xmas Everybody': How John Lennon helped make the festive classic

1 December 2023, 13:39

Slade's Dave Hill talks to Gold
Slade's Dave Hill talks to Gold. Picture: Gold/Global

By Tom Eames

Believe it or not, but 2023 marks 50 years since Slade released their seminal festive hit 'Merry Xmas Everybody'.

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In 1973, Slade scored the Christmas number one with the festive anthem. And Christmas isn't really Christmas until Noddy Holder shouts "IT'S CHRISTMAS!".

The song sold by the bucketload, and 50 years on it remains one of the UK's best-loved Christmas songs.

To mark the occasion, Gold caught up with Slade legend Dave Hill. Dave spoke to James Bassam about the making of the song, its enduring legacy and how John Lennon was involved in its recording.

Dave also spoke to James about Slade's friendly rivalry with Roy Wood's Wizzard - who also released 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' the same year.

Speaking about recording the song in the summer of 1973, Dave said: "I think if we think about the whole story of Christmas and that song, which was recorded in New York in July, 100 degrees.

"And us lot singing in the corridor while the people are coming to work in this office block, and there's guys coming in there going, 'my God, some crazy people in here. What are they doing singing about Christmas? It's 100 degrees outside'.

Dave Hill and James Bassam
Dave Hill and James Bassam. Picture: Gold

"We were in New York and we hadn't anything to do. And Chas [Chandler] had heard that Nod and Jim had written a Christmas song, because the idea was, Jim's granny said, 'nobody writes Christmas songs anymore', and certainly not a rock band. And Chas says, 'we've got some free time'. He says, 'I'll ring up the studio'.

"And John Lennon was in there, and John Lennon's a mate of Chas, and John says, 'actually, I'm cancelling a week here. If you want the studio, you can have it'.

"And it's really funny, this story, because we went in there, we didn't know the song, we had to learn it in there. And imagine how we are sweaty outside and then coming in. And actually, we use John Lennon's harmonium, and if you listen to the beginning of the song, where it goes 'duh duh duh', that's John Lennon's harmonium. We just borrowed it, you see!"

He continued: "And the thing about the Christmas song, if you listen to the lyrics, the lyrics are so very much connected to people. It's not like a religious song as such, but it's a song of actually what people do. They come to your house, they overcrowd your house. The old thing about the granny twisting is a true story in a way, because they used to go 'not as good as the old songs' and then they start doing it and that's a true story.

"And I think what Noddy did, he went home to his dad's council house, had a few beers and wrote the lyrics and I think Jim wrote some as well. And I think the lyrics for people is really real and I think it doesn't change year after year. It's still the same message and the same message is let's have a good time."

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody (Official Top Of The Pops Video)

Dave also spoke about his close friendship with Noddy Holder. Despite not being in Slade for a number of years, the two of them still speak regularly.

"We're great friends. I absolutely love him. And he's got a lovely wife. My wife and I were together before I was famous, so Nod likes seeing her because she was at the beginning. Before we made it.

"It's so joyous between us. I think Nod's like family to me, anyway. It's been years we've had something together which is so special. We can never repeat it. I mean, Nod's gone on to other things, but our time together is ingrained and it is something that will always have joy together while we are here."

Dave Hill's Slade are heading out on a UK tour in December 2023, starting in Newcastle on December 3.

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