Noddy Holder has revealed the real inspiration behind Slade’s festive 1973 hit ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’.
The song is arguably one of Slade’s biggest hits, becoming so famous that strangers regularly shout the iconic “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAS!” line back to Holder in the street. It still generates £500,000 in royalties every year, 50 years on from its release.
However, Holder has now revealed he and bandmate Jim Lea were never intending to write a Christmas song, explaining that its first iteration was conceived in the band’s “hippy dippy psychedelic days” in 1967, when it was called ‘Buy Me A Rocking Chair’, and was later discarded.
Their label later pushed them to release a Christmas song, prompting them to revive the track and use its melody for ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. The song was also partly inspired by the success of John Lennon and Yoko Ono‘s ‘Merry Christmas (War Is Over)’.
“I went to the local pub in Wolverhampton and went back to my mum and dad’s after and I sat up all night with a bottle of whisky and wrote the total lyrics that night,” Holder told the BBC.
The frontman said the record company “were making serious dough from us” after the song sold 500,000 records through pre-orders alone before it topped the charts.
Despite this, Holder said it was the “hardest song we ever had to record” after drummer Don Powell narrowly escaped death in a car crash in Wolverhampton earlier that year and had to re-learn his instrument.
At the time, he could only play the drums for a short while at a time, but their engineer was a “clever cookie” and was able to stitch together the sections of the song they recorded, so that afterwards “you couldn’t tell”.
In October, Holder’s wife Suzan revealed he had been diagnosed with oesophagal cancer five years ago and at the time was only given six months to live.
Holder told the BBC that while he would never be cured, he was “on a level playing field at the moment”, and determined to enjoy himself.
“I was more worried for my missus and my kids and my grandkids than I was for me,” he said. “I do live life day to day, and I thought well I’ve done a lot of good stuff in my life, I’ve had a lot of fun if the end is within sight in six months I’ll see it through.”