‘I wrote it in the summer during a heatwave. I was dripping sweat and standing there with jingling bells thinking: “This is crazy!”’
Shakin’ Stevens, singer
I always thought it would be nice to have a Christmas No 1 – if nobody remembers you for the rest of the year, they’ll remember you at Christmas. Bob Heatlie wrote the song especially for me and I thought it had all the ingredients for a Christmas single: festive lyrics, bells, the lot. I listened to it and I could picture snow.
Bob had made a really good demo, so [producer] Dave Edmunds and I basically just copied it, with a rockabilly beat, nice harmonies and imagery that families can relate to.
In those days, pop on TV was mostly kids’ programmes and Top of the Pops, so we made a video at Santaworld in Sweden. The young girl starring in it had won a competition to go to Lapland. My son was one of the kids in the log cabin full of toys. Making it was such fun. The Santa was an actor – you’d see him in the canteen having a cigarette and a sherry and he couldn’t get his ’tache off. Because it wasn’t snowing, we had to hire snow machines. It was the same when I did the video for It’s Raining: we used rain machines and I ended up absolutely soaked.
People always remind me of the embarrassing Christmas jumper in the video, but I didn’t have stylists, I just threw something on. The snowball fight was scripted, though. Duran Duran watched it on Saturday SuperstoreVideo Vote and said: “Oh look, he’s fallen over. Har har har!” Little did they know I did it on purpose, so it would look real.
I thought the song deserved to be No 1 and didn’t want it to be a No 2, but in 1984, Band Aid released Do They Know It’s Christmas? There was no way we could compete with such a high-profile charity single, so we held our song back for a year.
The Radio 1 “sleighlist” – the Christmas playlist – only lasted three weeks then, so you didn’t have long to get to No 1. Merry Christmas Everyone went from 38 to 10, then 2, and then it hit the top spot, by which time the rereleased Band Aid single was at No 3. I’m thrilled that people still play our song every year. It’s nice to be part of Christmas.
Bob Heatlie, songwriter
I worked in a studio in Edinburgh and a Scottish classical singer called Mary Sandeman kept saying to me: “Bobby, I’d love to have a bash at the charts. Could you come up with a song for me?” I avoided her for so long she phoned me to say she couldn’t wait any longer and had booked the studio. I bashed off a song called Japanese Boy the night before recording, then realised it was actually pretty catchy. It was rejected by all the labels. Even my own publisher hated it. Then Hansa put it out, with Mary using the more oriental-sounding name, Aneka. When it became an international No 1, it gave me the funds to build a studio in my garage and continue writing songs.
I wrote a few for Shaky but always wanted to write a Christmas single. I made some Christmassy sounds on a keyboard and the lyrics just started coming: “Snow is falling, all around me, children playing, having fun …” I threw it all in: “love and understanding”, kisses under the mistletoe, candles, parties, old records playing, the festive works. I wrote the song in summer, during a heatwave. It was so hot I was wearing shorts, dripping in sweat, standing there recording with jingling bells, thinking: “This is crazy!” I played everything on the demo – sax, drums, the lot – in the garage. Dave Edmunds will have got himself a lovely producer’s fee for just saying: “Copy that!”
When it first became a hit, I was walking through a shopping mall in Edinburgh and these two girls were arm in arm, with Christmas hats on, singing it at the top of their voices. I thought: “Wow!” It was almost better than seeing Shaky doing it on TV. It still goes in the charts every year after all this time and it always cheers me up if I’m out somewhere and hear it playing. And I get a Christmas card from Shaky every year.
• Shakin’ Stevens’ Greatest Hits and More tour starts on 1 March in Salisbury City Hall.
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- Shakin' Stevens - Greatest Hits - UK - vinyl LP - £15.00, $18.75, €16.80 (New Item) (arrived 01-Jul-2020 16:23)on July 5, 2020 at 1:39 am
SHAKIN' STEVENS Greatest Hits (1984 UK 18-track LP compilation featuring all the classic Shaky hits, including the bonus Breaking Up My Heart. The picture sleeve shows just a little light edgewear & the vinyl is Excellent with little evidenceof play EPC10047)
- Shakin' Stevens - There Are Two Kinds Of Music... Rock 'n' Roll - Autographed - UK - vinyl LP - £30.00, $37.50, €33.60 (New Item) (arrived 01-Jul-2020 12:34)on July 5, 2020 at 1:39 am
SHAKIN' STEVENS There Are Two Kinds Of Music... Rock 'n' Roll (1990 UK AUTOGRAPHED 12-track vinyl LP, including the singles Love Attack, I Might, Yes I Do, Pink Champagne and My Cutie Cutie, picture sleeve. The vinyl is near as new and although the sleeve does have some notable edgewear, the front of the sleeve has been dedicated and signed 'Shaky 1990s' in blue ballpoint pen STAR2454)
- Shakin' Stevens - Yes I Do - UK - 7" vinyl - £6.99, $8.74, €7.83 (New Item) (arrived 22-Jun-2020 17:46)on July 5, 2020 at 1:39 am
SHAKIN' STEVENS Yes I Do (1990 UK 7" vinyl single, also including You Shake Me Up Remix. The picture sleeve shows light wear and the vinyl looks barely played SHAKY12)
- Shakin' Stevens - The Bop Won't Stop - Japanese - vinyl LP - Promo - £55.00, $68.75, €61.60 (New Item) (arrived 12-Jun-2020 11:16)on July 5, 2020 at 1:39 am
SHAKIN' STEVENS The Bop Won't Stop (1983 Japanese promotional sample 12-track LP for review ahead of release, housed in a deluxe picture sleeve complete with fold-out lyric insert & obi-strip. The packaging shows very little of its age or origin & the vinyl is Near Mint 253P-487)
- Shakin' Stevens - Greatest Hits - UK - CD album - £14.99, $18.74, €16.79 (New Item) (arrived 10-Jun-2020 09:39)on July 5, 2020 at 1:39 am
SHAKIN' STEVENS Greatest Hits (1984 UK 18-track CD album featuring a collection of his best loved hits such as This Ole House, You Drive Me Crazy, Green Door, Oh Julie and more, picture sleeve)
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