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The Beatles' Christmas records were spoken and musical messages that were sent out on flexi discs at Christmas time to members of their official fan-clubs in the UK and America. One such record was issued each year from 1963–1969 and an LP compilation of all seven in 1970.

Conceived by Beatles press officer, Tony Barrow, as a means to appease fan-club members whose letters, due to their sheer volume, were not always being answered in a timely manner, the records included the Beatles' messages of thanks to "loyal Beatle people", along with skits, Christmas carols, and original compositions.

www.hillmanweb.com/xmas/beatles

The Beatles - Complete Christmas Records - 1963 to 1969 - 45 RPM - Flexi-Disc
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1963
The Beatles' Christmas Record
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All I Want For Christmas BBC Medley
Recorded: October 17, 1963 at Dick James Music ~ Issued: December 6, 1963
Writer and Producer: Tony Barrow (Beatles press officer)
Label: Lyntone, LYN 492 : Flexi disc: 7", 1 side, 331/2 RPM
Total time: 5:00

CONTENTS: The first Christmas recording from the Beatles featured several renditions of the traditional carol "Good King Wenceslas" and individual messages from the four, ending with a closing chorus of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Ringo".



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1964
Another Beatles Christmas Record
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ALTERNATE
Recorded: October 26, 1964 at Dick James Music ~ Issued: December 18, 1964
Writer and Producer: Tony Barrow
Label: Lyntone, LYN 757 : Flexi disc: 7", 1 side, 45 RPM
Total time: 3:58

CONTENTS: The song "Jingle Bells" is sung, followed by individual messages to the fans. John mocks the prepared statement, doing an imitation of Paul Harvey and includes his own pseudo-words and ad-libbing. When Paul asks him if he wrote this himself, he says, "No it's somebody's bad hand-rota. It's been a busy year Beople peadles, one way and another, but it's been a great year too. You fans have seen to that. Page two... Thanks a lot folks and a happy-er Christmas and a Merry Grew Year. Crimble maybe." They finishing up the record with a brief rendition of the traditional song "Oh Can You Wash Your Father's Shirt?"

This was not sent to American fans. Rather, at Christmas time 1964, US fans received an edited version of The Beatles' 1963 Christmas Record. The US fan-club sent the message in a tri-fold cardboard mailer, with the "record" embedded in one of the flaps of cardboard.

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1965
The Beatles' Third Christmas Record
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Recorded: November 8, 1965 at Dick James Music ~ Issued: December 17, 1965
Writers: Tony Barrow and The Beatles ~ Producer: Tony Barrow
Label: Lyntone, LYN 948 : Flexi disc: 7", 1 side, 331/3 RPM
Total time: 6:20

CONTENTS: Several off-key, a cappella versions of "Yesterday" are dispersed throughout the record, alongside Lennon's "Happy Christmas to Ya List'nas", "Auld Lang Syne", a one-and-a-half-line version of the Four Tops' "It's the Same Old Song" (which they quickly stop before they violate the copyright) and an original poem titled "Christmas Comes But Once a Year".

Members of the Beatles' US fan-club did not receive this (or any) Christmas flexi-disc in 1965. Rather, they received a black and white postcard, with a photo of the Fab Four and the message "Season's Greetings – Paul, Ringo, George, John." The Beatle Bulletin, the publication of the US fan-club, explained in its April 1966 edition that the tape arrived too late to prepare the record in time for Christmas.

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1966
The Beatles' Fourth Christmas Record
Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas
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Recorded: November 25, 1966 ~ Issued: December 16, 1966
Location: Dick James Music
Writers: The Beatles ~ Producer: George Martin ~ Cover: Paul McCartney
Label: Lyntone, LYN 1145 : Flexi disc: 7", 1 side, 33  1/3 RPM
Total time: 6:36

CONTENTS: Recorded between sessions for Strawberry Fields Forever, for the 1966 offering, the usual greetings and thanks gave way to a ‘Pantomime’-themed collection of original songs and dramatic skits. The songs include "Everywhere It's Christmas", "Orowainya", and "Please Don't Bring Your Banjo Back". The sketches performed include "Podgy the Bear and Jasper" and "Felpin Mansions."

Once again, the US fan-club members did not get a flexi-disc. Instead, they received a postcard with the message on one side and a short version of The Beatle Bulletin on the other, with enough room for a mailing label and postage.


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1967
Christmas Time (is Here Again!)
LISTEN  (alt) LISTEN
Recorded: November 28, 1967 ~ Issued: December 15, 1967
Location: EMI Studios, London
Writers: The Beatles ~ Producer: George Martin
 Label: Lyntone, LYN 1360 ~ Flexi disc: 7", 1 side, 331/3 RPM
Total time: 6:06

CONTENTS: An elaborate production, Christmas Time is Here Again! was developed around the concept of several groups auditioning for a BBC radio show. The title song serves as a refrain throughout the record. The Beatles portray a multitude of characters, including game show contestants, aspiring musicians ("Plenty of Jam Jars", by the Ravellers), and actors in a radio drama ("Theatre Hour"). At the end John reads a poem, "When Christmas Time Is Over." This offering was likely a deliberate homage to/continuation of the broadly similar "Craig Torso" specials produced for BBC Radio 1 that same year by the Beatles' friends and collaborators the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, and also shares much in common with their then-unreleased track "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)", recorded six months previously.

While British fans received a flexi-disc in an elaborate sleeve, American fans received a postcard similar to that of 1966.


Sleeve design by Julian Lennon, John Lennon and Ringo Starr.
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1968
The Beatles' 1968 Christmas Record 
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Recorded: November–December 1968 ~  Issued: December 20, 1968
Location: various
Writer: The Beatles ~ Producer: Kenny Everett
Label: Lyntone, LYN 1743/4 ~ Flexi disc: 7", 2 sides, 33? RPM
Total time: 7:48

CONTENTS: The first Beatles Christmas fan-club disc to be recorded separately, the 1968 offering is a collage of odd noises, musical snippets, and individual messages. McCartney's song "Happy Christmas, Happy New Year" is featured, along with John's poems "Jock and Yono" and "Once Upon a Pool Table." Also notable is a rendition of "Nowhere Man" by the ukulele-playing Tiny Tim. Also included is a sped-up snippet of the Beatles' own "Helter Skelter" and a brief snippet of Perrey & Kingsley's "Baroque Hoedown" which was used three years later in Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and "Birthday" are also heard in the background for part of the message.The dialogue and songs for the flexi-disc were organised and edited together by DJ and friend of the Beatles, Kenny Everett.

Finally, the US fans got a flexi-disc for Christmas in 1968, but it came in a modified version of the 1967 UK sleeve.

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1969
The Beatles' Seventh Christmas Record 
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Recorded: November–December 1969 ~  Issued: December 19, 1969
Location: various
Writer: The Beatles ~ Producer: Maurice Cole
Label: Lyntone, LYN 1970/1971 ~ Flexi disc: 7", 2 sides, 331/3 RPM
Total time: 7:39

CONTENTS: The final Beatles Christmas offering was also recorded separately, as the band had effectively split by this point. It features an extensive visit with John and Yoko at their Tittenhurst Park estate, where they play "what will Santa bring me?" games. Harrison only appears briefly, and Starr only shows up to plug his recent film, The Magic Christian. Paul sings his original ad-lib, "This is to Wish You a Merry, Merry Christmas." Starting at 1:30, at the tail-end of Ringo's song, the guitar solos from "The End" are heard, followed by Yoko interviewing John.

For the only time, the American and British jackets were identical. The US version of the flexi-disc had an elaborate drawing of the Beatles' faces on it.


BEATLES WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME by PAUL McCARTNEY - 1979

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Compilation CD
Beatles Xmas Medley
In December 1970, in the wake of the band's break-up, the UK fan-club sent out a compilation LP of all seven recordings, entitled From Then To You. The master tapes having been mislaid, the LP was mastered from copies of the original flexi discs. In the US, the LP was repackaged as The Beatles' Christmas Album and sent out by the fan-club around springtime 1971. It was the first time the 1964 and 1965 messages had been made available in the USA.

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Now check out our main Beatles site:
Bill Hillman Tracks
THE BEATLES IN HAMBURG
1960-1962

Photos by Bill Hillman accompanied by information
compiled from personal interviews and various Beatles Bios and Web Refs
www.hillmanweb.com/BEATLES
Visit our lates Fab Four site:
www.hillmanweb.com/beatles4

Part of the ROOTS section of our
HILLMAN 50-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY PROJECT

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At the invitation of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. of Tarzana, California, and Disney Theatrical, NY, I flew to Hamburg for a 10-day stay in October 2008. This gave me time to explore Hamburg before and after the main focus of the visit: the German Tarzan Musical Premiere.

I've been a Beatles admirer since the early '60s, having performed many of their songs in our stage act.  It was natural then, that I take advantage of the opportunity to study the Beatles' early influences in Hamburg's Reeperbahn district. Making daily treks from my home base, Hotel 66 on Hein-Hoyer, in the heart of the St. Pauli district, I took hundreds of photos, many of which I share in this project: 

THE BEATLES IN HAMBURG: 1960-1962

Also See the Hillman / UK Connection:
http://www.hillmanweb.com/uk

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