Wizzard really got into the Christmas spirit while recording their 1973 hit festive song… in August.
The band hired fans to cool their studio down to a frosty temperature and decorated it with tinsel and festive ornaments. They even recorded the song wearing woolly hats and scarves!
Frontman Roy Wood had wanted to create a ‘proper rock and roll’ Christmas song, having grown tired of the novelty acts of the previous years. Jimmy Osmond had been top of the festive pops in 1972, with Benny Hill taking the honour the previous year.
Initially he was going for a stripped back approach but soon decided to go at it with glam rock gusto.
This was no more evident than when, after deciding a sound effect wasn’t good enough, a real cash register was hired to create the iconic opening.
Wood told Q Magazine in 1996: “We hired a proper old fashioned metal cash register with all the scroll work on the sides, and I pressed the buttons while Rick (Price, bassist) dropped the coins in. It was exactly what I wanted.”
The choir of children used in the song were from Stockland Green School in Birmingham, and it became a bit of a school project for them as they were shown how everything in the studio worked and how the song was put together.
They were even treated to burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe for their troubles.
Bizarrely enough, the school they attended is situated on a street named Slade Road, which of course shares its name with Wizzard’s rivals for Christmas number one that year.
Merry Xmas Everybody was released a couple of weeks before I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, and eventually topped the charts come December 25th.
Slade and Wizzard were two of the biggest bands at the time, and ended up releasing two of the biggest ever Christmas hits at the same time.
But despite this, neither of them knew what the other was up to!
“Unfortunately, our record hit the shops two weeks after Slade’s, which meant they had a head start,” Wood says. “Theirs was a great song and pipped us to the post for 1973 Christmas No 1. But I didn’t cry in my beer because I was pleased just having a hit.
“We’re always asked to play it at concerts – even in summer. But I never get fed up with it because it’s done well for me. But when I wrote the song, I couldn’t have imagined it would still be around today.”
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