It’s December 20th and now we’re at day 20 of my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar posts. Behind the cardboard door today there is a real treat in store for you. We’re going back to the 60s to take a look at the only act to have had four Christmas number ones in the UK. It’s not Cliff Richard, he’s only had three, the Spice Girls also had three in a row in the 90s. But so far no one has matched the UK Christmas Number One success of this UK band. They had the UK Christmas Number One in 1963, 1964, 1965 and again in 1967. I’m sure you will not be too surprised to hear that I’m talking about the Beatles.
As a special pre-Christmas treat I will be giving you all four of their Christmas Number ones later in this post. The songs that made the Yuletide top spot for the Fab Four were; “I Want To Hold Your Hand” (1963), “I Feel Fine” (1964), “Day Tripper/ We Can Work It Out” (1965) and “Hello Goodbye” (1967). At Christmas 1963 the Beatles also held the number two spot with “She Loves You“. Their sequence was broken in 1966 by Tom Jones with “Green, Green Grass Of Home“. In Christmas 1963, 1964 and 1965 the Mop Tops stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks each year and in 1967 it was seven weeks.
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” was also the Beatles first US number one where it stayed for 7 weeks. It was also at number four in the US on April 4th 1964 when the Beatles had the whole of the Top 5. Up until 1964 the Beatles hadn’t had massive success in the US and manager Brian Epstein suggested to John Lennon and Paul McCartney that they should write a song that would appeal in the US. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was the result of that request. It was also the first song the band recorded using the new technology of four track recording.
The bands second UK Christmas Number One, “I Feel Fine” was their eighth UK single. In 1964 it was the first US number one in a sequence of six Beatles songs in a row. It displaced the Rolling Stones “Little Red Rooster” at the top of the UK charts, possibly preventing the Stones from achieving what would have been their only UK Christmas Number One. Apparently Paul McCartney has said that the drum sound on the song was inspired by the Ray Charles song “What I’d Say“.
The third of the Beatles UK Christmas Number Ones was a double-A side, something the CD and download era has made pretty much redundant. The two songs remain classics, for the price of one 7 inch single you got “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out”. The songs were recorded during the ‘Rubber Soul’ sessions and were hurried along in order to provide the band with a Christmas release. Apparently Brian Epstein felt that a lack of releases or a lack of visibility would bring an end to the band’s success. When deciding which song to release John Lennon argued strongly for “Day Tripper” while the Paul, George and Ringo went for “We Can Work It Out”, hence it became the first commercial double-A side release. Noel Gallagher off of Oasis has referred to “We Can Work It Out” as the song that defines the Beatles (with the Beatles obviously being the band that defined Oasis!)
The last of the Beatles UK Christmas Number Ones, “Hello Goodbye” was at the top during Christmas 1967. It was also a US number one. The band filmed three promotional clips for the song, which were never aired in the UK at the time because of the Musicians Union embargo on miming. In an interview at the time of the songs release, Paul McCartney was quoted as saying the following when explaining the meaning of the song; “The answer to everything is simple. It’s a song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white. That’s the amazing thing about life”.
So now go ahead and enjoy the five songs that make up the Beatles four UK Christmas Number Ones and at the end there is a special Beatle Christmas treat for you all! Enjoy!