‘I wrote Wizzards I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day – they pay me every time it’s on the radio’

In the romcom About A Boy, Hugh Grant's Will Freeman sails through life, living comfortably off the royalties of a famous Christmas song written by his dad when he was just a child.

The film might be otherwise pure Hollywood fantasy, but that plotline has a ring of truth in it for Wizzard's Roy Wood, who this month marks an astonishing 50 years since his festive classic I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day first hit the airwaves.

In an exclusive interview to mark the anniversary, he tells OK!: "Whenever it plays on the radio nowadays I still get a PRS [royalty fee] – it's not as much as you think but it's better than nothing."

In About A Boy, Will cringes when he hears his dad's hit – but that certainly isn't Roy's reaction.

"It’s a bit crazy," he candidly admits. "I had no idea when I wrote it that it would last this long. It's funny because I can't go into a supermarket at this time of year without the staff putting the song on – it makes me smile when it comes on."

While the 77-year-old doesn't seek out his own song, he always enjoys hearing it. "I don’t usually listen to my own songs at home unless I’m writing something new but if that comes on the radio I don’t mind it. It’s got a good atmosphere on the record and it brings back lots of memories."

And, he feels, the 50th milestone of his song is something to celebrate, with Roy – who has released a special I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday 50th anniversary gin – joining OK! to talk us through his memories of writing and recording the hit, recruiting the video's child stars, and just why he thinks it has stood the test of time.

Along with frontman Roy, Wizzard was made up of Bill Hunt, cellists Mike Edwards and Hugh McDowell, Rick Price, drummers Charlie Grima and Keith Smart and saxophonists Mike Burney and Nick Pentelow.

Back in the early 70s there weren't many Christmas songs around – and those there were had been recorded in the Rockabilly or classic style.

Roy planned to write I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day for years, using a folder to keep track of his ideas. He says: "I'd wanted to write a Christmassy song for a while and kept my ideas in a folder. I knew when the time was right I wanted to get them out and start working on them."

It was early in 1973 when inspiration eventually hit. Roy remembers of that day in May: "I sat in my kitchen in Worcestershire and decided it was time for another rock and roll Christmas song, and started creating one, putting the lyrics together and then spending a few months in the studio refining it."

While the songs lyrics feature snowmen, skating, frosticles and Santa, it was recorded in the heat of summer.

"We recorded the song in August when it was bright sunshine outside. The recording process for the song was funny because I wrote it in May and then we recorded it in a studio in August of that year when it was bright sunshine."

To help get the band in the mood, Roy tried to create a festive atmosphere.

"We put some big fans in the corners of the room and blue lights and made it freezing cold and festive so we got the right background for the video. I phoned the band and asked them to come along with hats and scarves and we had a Christmas tree in the control room too.

"I remember when we popped out for a sandwich around five and opened the doors it was blazing sunshine outside and we'd been in the cold – it was ridiculous really."

The children who feature on the record were bussed down from Birmingham for a day out in London – treating it just like a school trip.

Roy said: "We got a children's choir from Birmingham to come down on the coach with a few of their teachers and they did the recording as a school project. I spoke to them about how the record would be made and how the studio works and then by the time they came to singing for us they had lost all their nerves and we got it done in the first or second take which was brilliant."

After a couple of takes, Roy and his bandmates took the rest of the day off to treat the children to a day out.

"We took them to the Hard Rock Cafe in Leicester Square after and there was one of band member on each table so they could interview us and it was great. On the way back, they were apparently all singing and we gave them crisps and pop and they had a good old time."

With the record and video in the bag, Wizzard were hoping for a Christmas number one – but it wasn't to be.

Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody was released first, something Roy blames for Wizzard's failure to clinch the top chart spot.

"We knew it would do all right because of the way it sounded in the end. You can’t always say that about records. But we didn't know Slade had done one as well and they didn't know that we had, we all kept our cards close to our chests.

"The problem we had was that our management had a bit of a disagreement with the record company so it was two weeks later coming out than it should have been. Slade had two weeks advantage so it meant that they got the Christmas number one in 1973 and we didn't but it was great that our song was a hit so I didn't mind."

Aside from his Christmas hit, Roy recalls plenty of memorable moments in his time with the band, from appearing on Top of the Pops to mingling with iconic stars.

"It was around the time when ABBA was number 1 and doing well," he says of TOTP. "The whole band came to my dressing room to say hello and they were really lovely – Agnetha was wearing the blue outfit for Waterloo. Another memory I have was when we went on tour in the early days with Jimi Hendrix which was really good."

While Wizzard's song is a huge part of British Christmases, Roy likes to spend December 25 overseas, with his family. This year he'll be jetting off to spend the day with his daughter and grandsons at their home in America.

He tells us: "Last year my daughter wrapped the door in paper and they had to rip the paper to open it and she put Santa footprints around the room. It’s lovely seeing the Christmas magic through the kid's eyes."

It's been many years since he worked with Wizzard, but Roy remains in touch via text with his old bandmates from time to time. And even at an age when many have retired, he still has a love of performing and recording.

"I recently did a concert with Alfie Boe, who is a mate of mine, he's a great bloke," he said. "I'm still in the studio writing my own music and in recent years, my songs New York City and Airborne came out."

And Roy has no regrets over his career – saying he never expected it to last this long.

“Music beats having a proper job. I’m boring, I’m sitting at home and in the studio and waiting for people to call. That’s my kind of life.”

Roy has partnered with Nelson's Distillery and Gin School to celebrate the anniversary of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by creating a 50th anniversary gin. Find out more and snap up your ownhere.

    Source: Read Full Article