Snow sunset

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1963

The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and recorded in October 1963. It was the first Beatles record to be made using four-track equipment.

With advance orders exceeding one million copies in the United Kingdom, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" would have gone straight to the top of the British record charts on its day of release (29 November 1963) had it not been blocked by the group's first million seller "She Loves You", their previous UK single, which was having a resurgence of popularity following intense media coverage of the group. Taking two weeks to dislodge its predecessor, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" stayed at number one for five weeks and remained in the UK top fifty for twenty-one weeks in total.

It was also the group's first American number one, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number forty-five. By 1 February it held the number-one spot, and stayed there for seven weeks before being replaced by "She Loves You", a reverse scenario of what had occurred in Britain. It remained on the US charts for a total of fifteen weeks. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" became the Beatles' best-selling single worldwide. In 2013, Billboard Magazine named it the 44th biggest hit of "all-time" on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Christmas cat in tinsel

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1962

Elvis Presley - Return To Sender

"Return to Sender" is a 1962 hit single recorded by American singer Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music. The song was written by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell.

Presley performed "Return to Sender" in the film Girls! Girls! Girls!. It featured Presley's longtime cohorts Barney Kessel on electric guitar, Tiny Timbrell on acoustic guitar, Ray Siegal on Double bass, D.J. Fontana on drums, Dudley Brooks on piano, Boots Randolph on baritone saxophone, and the Jordanaires on backing vocals.

The song peaked at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and number 2 on the American Billboard singles chart. It was the first Christmas number one in Ireland, as the Irish Charts had been founded in October 1962.

I can't say I'm a right big fan of Elvis' music. I don't hate it but I also don't get what all the fuss is about him or his music! But I have to say that I have always liked this song and it is probably my favourite Elvis song. I actually think I bought this single as a teenager when he died in 1977.
Christmas Cat

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1961

Danny Williams - Moon River

"Moon River" is a song composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer. It received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for its first performance by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. It also won Mancini the 1962 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Mercer the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

It became the theme song for Andy Williams, who recorded it in 1961.

Mercer and Mancini wrote the song for Audrey Hepburn to fit her vocal range. Initially, the lyrics started, "I'm Holly, like I want to be / like Holly on a tree back home ..."; however, they were later changed to fit the theme of the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.

This version by the South African singer Danny Williams reached the number one in the UK in the final week of 1961.

My parents had this single, so it had always been around the house as I was growing up. I did eventually buy another copy of it at a later date from a record fair for £2, as our family copy was wellworn from being played so often.
cat snow on head

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1960

Cliff Richard and the Shadows - I Love You

"I Love You" is the fourth UK number-one hit single (and the second of 1960s) by Cliff Richard and The Shadows. It was written by Shadows' rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch. Released in December, it was a Christmas No. 1 and stayed at the chart summit for two weeks, although it did not carry a traditional holiday theme.

This was a single that I didn't actually buy until many years after I had started collecting. I had done my own research in 1993 by looking through chart books and there were a few years where the new chart day actually fell on the 26th or 27th Dec and there was a new no1. In my list I had counted whatever song was no1 actually on 25th Dec and hadn't realised that for a while the chart dates were actually "week ending" and not "week beginning". With the development of the internet, the list of UK Christmas no1s became available on line, and I realised that I had listed several songs wrong. The 1960 Christmas no1 being one of them as I had thought it was "It's Now Or Never" by Elvis Presley.

I had bought the Elvis single in 1993 at a charity shop for 50p. After I realised I had bought the wrong single it took ages to find a copy of this and I eventually bought it on 7 inch single in about 2003 at a record fair. It was one of my more expensive buys at £8.
Heart snow

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1959

Emile Ford and the Checkmates - What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For

"What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?" is a song written by Joseph McCarthy, Howard Johnson and James V. Monaco in 1916. It was released in 1917 by Ada Jones and Billy Murray on Victor Records.

It became a UK hit in 1959 when a do-wop version, produced by Michael Barclay, became a number one hit for Emile Ford & The Checkmates over the Christmas and New Year of 1959/60, having overtaken Adam Faith's 'What Do You Want?'.Its stay in the UK Singles Chart began on 31 October 1959 and lasted 17 weeks. The last chart-topper of the 1950s, it retained the number one position for the first three weeks of 1960 until it was replaced by Michael Holliday's 'Starry Eyed' on 29 January 1960. Ford was the first black British artist to sell one million copies of a single.

I think a friend gave me this single around 1996.

A funny thing happened some years ago - I was playing christmas music in my flat one evening when one of the young people from the youth club called to give me a Christmas card. This song came on and she suddenly got really excited and shouted 'Oh Emile Ford and the Checkmates!' I was REALLY surprised at a 14 year old knowing an artist from the 50's so I asked her how she knew the song. She told me that he had been the guest singer at the holiday camp she had stayed at for the week, only 3 months ago, and she and her family had had a really great evening. She had even got his autograph!!
Christmas red bauble

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1958

Conway Twitty - Its Only Make Believe

"It's Only Make Believe" is a song written by Jack Nance and Conway Twitty and released by Twitty as a single in July 1958. The single topped both U.S. and the UK Singles Chart, and was Twitty's only number one single on the pop charts of either country. It is believed that Twitty wrote his part of the song while sitting on a fire escape outside his hotel room, to escape the summer heat, in Hamilton, Ontario.

I bought this single in 1993 from a local record collectors shop for £1.
Christmas cat in tinsel

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1957

Harry Belafonte - Mary's Boy Child

"Mary's Boy Child" is a 1956 Christmas song, written by Jester Hairston. The song came about when Hairston was sharing a room with a friend. The friend asked him to write a song for a birthday party. Hairston wrote the song with a calypso rhythm because the people at the party would be mainly West Indians. The song's original title was "He Pone and Chocolate Tea", pone being a type of corn bread. It was never recorded in this form.

Some time later Walter Schumann, at the time conducting Schumann's Hollywood Choir, asked Hairston to write a new Christmas song for his choir. Hairston remembered the calypso rhythm from his old song and wrote new lyrics for it.

Harry Belafonte heard the song being performed by the choir and sought permission to record it. It was recorded in 1956 for his album 'An Evening with Belafonte'. An edited version was subsequently released as a single, reaching No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in November 1957. It was the first single to sell over one million copies in the UK alone. In 1962. the full-length version was added to a re-issue of Belafonte's previously released album 'To Wish You a Merry Christmas'.

The Harry Belafonte 7 inch single in my collection had always been in our household. I grew up with it and it used to get played lots of times in the run up to Christmas.

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1956

Johnny Ray - Just Walkin' In The Rain

"Just Walkin' in the Rain" was written in 1952 by Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley, two prisoners at Tennessee State Prison in Nashville, after a comment made by Bragg as the pair crossed the courtyard while it was raining. Bragg allegedly said, "Here we are just walking in the rain, and wondering what the girls are doing." Riley suggested that this would make a good basis for a song, and within a few minutes, Bragg had composed two verses. However, because Bragg was unable to read and write, he asked Riley to write the lyrics down in exchange for being credited as one of the song's writers.

Bragg and his band, the Prisonaires, later recorded the song for Sun Records and it became a hit on the US Billboard R&B chart in 1953. However, the best-known version of the song was recorded by Johnnie Ray in 1956; it reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks. Ray initially disliked the song, but sang it based on the recommendation of Mitch Miller. Ray's version featured the backup male vocals of the Ray Conniff Singers as well as a whistler.

Ray became deaf in his left ear aged 13,following a mishap that occurred during a Boy Scout "blanket toss." In later years, Ray performed wearing a hearing aid. Surgery performed in 1958 left him almost completely deaf in both ears, although hearing aids helped his condition.

I found this song on 7inch single in 1993 from a local record collectors shop for £1.
Snow blow

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1955

Dickie Valentine - Christmas Alphabet

"Christmas Alphabet" is a 1955 Christmas song, which became a No.1 hit in the UK Singles Chart for the singer Dickie Valentine. It was written by Buddy Kaye and Jules Loman, and produced by Dick Rowe. It first entered the UK chart on 25 November 1955, where it spent seven weeks. Three of those were at No.1.

It is also the first Christmas chart topper that is actually about Christmas, a trend that would continue off and on over the next several decades.

This is the only record I don't actually have in my collection, as it seems to have been released as a track on an EP of four(?) songs and wasn't actually released seperately. When I last saw the EP for sale at a record fair it was £69! I have an MP3 recording of the song which is fine for just listening to the music, but one day I hope I can own a physical copy of the EP so I can finally complete my collection!
Heart snow

65 years of UK Christmas No1s - 1954

Winnifred Atwell - Let's Have Another Party

"Let's Have Another Party" was a 1954 ragtime composition, which became a number one hit in the UK Singles Chart for the pianist Winifred Atwell. It is a composite of several pieces of music, and was a follow up to Atwell's successful hit "Let's Have a Party" of the previous year.

The music was written by Nat D. Ayer, Clifford Grey, James W. Tate, Ray Henderson, Mort Dixon and others. It was produced by Johnny Franz and first entered the UK chart on 26 November 1954 for an eight-week run, spending five of those weeks at number one. The medley included parts of the following tunes:

"Another Little Drink Wouldn't Do Us Any Harm"
"Broken Doll"
"Bye Bye Blackbird"
"Honeysuckle and the Bee"
"I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight"
"Lily of Laguna"
"Nellie Dean"
"The Sheik of Araby"
"Somebody Stole My Gal"
"When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)"

I just really love this recording!  - it's so bad, it's great!  This record was one of the last ones that I added to my Christmas No1's collection having searched for it for about 10 years. I found it in an old market in Glasgow on a 78 record for 20p but at that time didn't have a record player that could play 78's. About 4 years ago I finally found a 7inch version at a local car boot sale for 5p. Notice the brill electric guitar bit in the middle!!

I've actually got this one loaded on my MP3 player on my favourites playlist so I can listen to it all year round :)