Watch Slade's Dave Hill lead festive sing-along 50 years on from smash hit Merry Xmas Everybody

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Slade star Dave Hill performs chart-topping festive song Merry Xmas Everybody

It's been half a century since it first topped the charts, but it still brings a happy feeling to one of its performers. The Slade hit "Merry Xmas Everybody" has become a Christmas tradition, played on the television, at Christmas parties, in pubs and clubs and even at schools and colleges across the country since it first became the UK Christmas number one in 1973.

The song has become one of the most loved by the Black Country band, who enjoyed a string of hits in the 1970s, and is still a highlight of any Slade concert played by the band, of which Dave Hill is still a full-time member.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 77-year-old was the guest of honour at Wolverhampton College for a festive sing-along with Futures tutor Richard Cooper and students from the programme, which encourages independence, employability and inclusion and ensures each young person has maximised opportunity to progress to independent adult lives, on Monday.

The concert took place inside the main entrance hall to the college's Wellington Road campus and saw dozens of students, tutors and staff from the college gather around to greet Richard Cooper, who signed a welcome to the students and introduced Dave Hill to play Merry Xmas Everybody.

It was a fun and welcoming event, with plenty of people singing along to the song and a few having a dance to the music, and the trademark toothy grin from Dave Hill was clear to see as he played along with the song, as well as Cum On Feel the Noize.

Even 50 years after the song, which was written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, came out, Dave Hill said it still meant a huge amount to him, but also to people across the world. He told Express & Star: "It means a lot to me, but I think greatly, it means a great deal to everybody, not only England, but across the world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Making that song, we never realised at the time of what it would mean, as it started when Jim Lea's mother-in-law said nobody writes any Christmas songs - and we thought that was a good point as, certainly, no rock bands would write one. I grew up in a generation of Bing Crosby, so Christmas was about those sorts of songs, but this comment stemmed an idea and I know that Nod had a chorus to another song about a man riding in a rocking chair and I think Jim was working on a verse and he and Nod got together and put it all together.

Dave Hill, 77, loves to talk about the festive song until now
Dave Hill, 77, loves to talk about the festive song until now
Dave Hill, 77, loves to talk about the festive song until now | Express and Star/NW

"They mentioned it to Chas Chandler, who was our manager and producer, who thought it was interesting and we went on tour to America and, bored out of our minds in New York, he booked some studio time, which was supposed to be for John Lennon, but he cancelled the week in there and we got it."

The song began to take shape during the session time, with Dave saying he added ideas like the boogie guitar, as well as a harmonium piece being played in - the instrument had been left for John Lennon and formed the start of the song.

It was a special time for music in the region as Wizzard from Birmingham had also written a Christmas song in I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, something Dave Hill said was a nice surprise for him and the band.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: "Roy Wood's a friend of ours and we didn't know he'd made a Christmas song until it got mentioned to us on a television show and we couldn't believe another rock band had had the same idea as us. It was a great song though and I think that if we hadn't brought ours out, that would have been number one."

Dave Hill said the magic of the song was how it lifted people and was a gem for singing about Christmas, but without any sort of connotation to it.

He said: "We were a massive band at the time and the song was great as it came against the backdrop of a rough time in Britain, with three-day weeks and power cuts and I think it genuinely lifted the nation. The song is a bit of a gem in itself as it's not a religious song, more of a song about what people do and they laugh about their granny and the people coming round your house to drink your booze, and I think it's all the things we know. We were never a pretentious band and while we were serious about our songs, we were always approachable and fun and had a great singer, great songs - and it was a great time."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.