Fringe Box



Merry Xmas Everybody and Memories of Slade’s Gigs in Guildford

Published on: 4 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 4 Dec, 2023

It’s that time of year again, and you’ve probably already heard the festive classic Merry Xmas Everybody on your rounds, a hit that first topped the UK charts 50 years ago this month.

A paper sleeve of Slade’s number one hit Merry Xmas Everybody.

But did you ever catch Slade live? Surrey-born and bred music writer/ editor Malcolm Wyatt did, although he was barely 15 then. 

He went on to interview the band and is now the author of Wild! Wild! Wild! A People’s History of Slade, which includes forewords by Suzi Quatro and Sweet’s Andy Scott and more than 300 fans’ contributions from the world of music and beyond.

Malcolm Wyatt with his new book Wild! Wild! Wild! A People’s History of Slade.

Malcolm said: “Slade played Guildford Civic Hall in May 1972, Status Quo supporting.

“And then my brother Mark saw Slade at the University of Surrey with his schoolmate Alan in 1978, telling me he caught guitarist Dave Hill with a flying bog roll!

“My brother and his friend Alan saw Slade again at the University of Surrey in 1981, before I joined them in December 1982 for my first London gig, at Hammersmith Odeon.”

Slade’s hit single from 1973, Merry Xmas Everybody.

Malcolm was six years old when Merry Xmas Everybody became Slade’s third single of 1973 to go straight in at the top of the UK charts, having become the first band since the Beatles to enter the UK charts at number one with Cum On Feel The Noize that spring, repeating the feat that summer with Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me. 

That chart treble remained unequalled until Surrey heroes the Jam managed it in December 1982 with their final single, Beat Surrender. And two members of the Jam feature in Malcolm’s book.

Steve Brookes, co-founder of the Jam, told Malcolm: “I remember Paul [Weller] bought the Slade Alive album and was really impressed by the energy of the playing.

“They weren’t a manufactured band, they were a band that had been out gigging, the sort of thing as a musician you tend to look up to, people who can actually do it.”

Former Jam bandmate, drummer Rick Buckler, added: “We came across them more and more, because they were signed to Polydor, the same record company as ourselves.

“First time I saw them, they were supporting us at the Great British Music Festival [November 29, 1978]. For the first time I actually appreciated how good they were. 

Steve Smith, of Guildford’s new wave legends the Vapors, best known for their single Turning Japanese, told Malcolm he first became aware of Slade when a music paper did a feature on an earlier incarnation of the band when they were called Ambrose Slade. 

Steve said:“They looked like a gang, and certainly not one you’d want to meet down a dark alleyway. But they’d made an impression.

“Most of the music I listened to was on Radio One. That’s where I first heard Noddy blasting out the intro to Get Down And Get With It. The band came crashing in and I was hooked.

“They sounded loud and brash and like they were having the best time. That record opened the door to a stream of brilliant singles that were the soundtrack of my teenage years. 

Donna Jones, from Shamley Green, and Steve Carver, from Woking, were both at the University of Surrey for the Slade gig in January 1981.

Donna recalled to Malcolm: “At 14 and three-quarters, I considered myself a seasoned gig-goer, having seen Blondie and OMD the year before. I was down with the adults now!

“I knew who Slade were but mainly from a very special Christmas song. I wasn’t prepared for the pure rock ‘n’ roll I hadn’t experienced at the former events. Proper guitars and banging drums, nothing synthesised.

“I was fascinated by Dave Hill in particular. Whenever I’d seen Slade on TV, all I could see was his fringe, earring and platform boots. He didn’t disappoint. I think he might have had a cheeky cowboy hat on too. And Noddy Holder? What a showman. A voice like no other.

“I quite fancied [drummer] Don Powell and [bass guitarist] Jim Lea, and when asked if I wanted to go to the stage door for an autograph, I declined because of my girly new-found admiration. I knew I’d go to pieces.

“I remember looking around in awe at all the rock fans, those cool men with long hair and denim. It was then that I started growing my hair and became a right royal headbanger by the end of the year. Great times.”

Author Malcolm Wyatt (right) with Slade drummer Don Powell.

Steve Carver told Malcolm: “At the University of Surrey they came back for an encore, and Noddy asked for requests. Somewhat predictably, a sweat-drenched audience demanded Merry Xmas Everybody.

“Noddy laughed and said: ‘Shall we?’ As the steaming crowd bellowed every word, I couldn’t help thinking, that surely happens at every gig?”

Malcolm adds: “In the UK in the 1970s, there was no bigger band than Slade. Yet six number one singles, three consecutive number one albums, 17 straight Top 20 singles and eight Top 20 LPs don’t tell the whole story.

“All those hits from 1971 to 1976 are forever steeped in nostalgia for this fan-boy, making it hard to convey my sense of wonder at interviewing Dave, Don and Jim in recent years, let alone catch them live in late 1982 and seeing Noddy on stage in more recent years.

Wild! Wild! Wild! – A People’s History of Slade by Malcolm Wyatt is available from Spenwood Books via

Or via Amazon at

Dropping off copies of his new book: Malcolm Wyatt (left) and Ben Darnton of Ben’s Collectors Records, Tunsgate, Guildford.

Or direct from Ben’s Collectors Records, Tunsgate, Guildford. Facebook page.

The cover of Wild! Wild! Wild! – A People’s History of Slade by Malcolm Wyatt.

Malcom said: “You can also order via your preferred bookseller or try before you buy from your local library.”

Malcolm Wyatt has previously published This Day in Music’s Guide to The Clash (2018), and regularly writes feature-interviews and reviews for his website.

A dad to two grown-up daughters, he’s also a foster carer with his partner, but still gets down to see family and friends around Guildford when he can, and follows Woking FC.

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