Behind The Beatles’ Fan Club Christmas Records

From 1963 to 1969, it was a holiday tradition of the Beatles to gift members of their official fan club Christmas records. The exclusive Flexi-disc records they sent out didn’t contain the poetics of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” or the sentimentality of “In My Life.”

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Instead, these records held goofy, off-key, and often nonsensical messages in the form of skits, soliloquies, and ad-libbed carols and compositions from the Fab Four all to say thanks and good tidings to fans during the holidays and into the new year.

Each clocking in at around seven minutes, the rare holiday records feature quips from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Their charm is overflowing and their penchant for goofs and gags is a bit excessive. But they’re sincere all the same, sending gifts of genuine gratitude to their fans throughout the years.

The Beatles Christmas Record (1963)

The Fab Four released their first Christmas record to fan club members in an effort to make up for not being able to respond to their innumerable letters in a timely manner.

The 1963 recording featured a wacky a cappella rendition of the traditional carol, “Good King Wenceslas,” in which the four go around ad-libbing the verses, all hilariously out-of-tune. They pause to give individual messages about the year they’ve had and their excitement for the next.

Another Beatles Christmas Record (1964)

Kazoos and harmonicas buzz out “Jingle Bells” as a member mumbles the words to the tune in the opening of their 1964 fan homage.

“Don’t know where we’d be without you,” McCartney says to fans in the recording with Lennon remarking, “In the army, perhaps.” The jokes are flung, raspberries are blown, and random background clattering can be heard throughout the holiday messages that close in an uproar of “Happy Christmas!”

The Beatles’ Third Christmas Record (1965)

Opening in a blunder of their tune “Yesterday,” the band spouts off thank you’s in between renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” and the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song.”

They go around thanking fans for the gifts they’ve received throughout the year, especially the “chewed up pieces of chewing gum” and the “playing cards made out of knickers.”

Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas (1966)

The Beatles’ fourth Christmas message was more of a production than a free-for-all. The group dropped their ad-libbing, performing as distinct characters for a glimpse at what next year and their next album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, would bring.

Christmas Time Is Here Again! (1967)

Another elaborate recording, their fifth fan club Christmas release expanded on the one from the year before. An original holiday recording, “Christmas Time (Is Here Again),” was added to the mix.

The Beatles’ 1968 Christmas Record

Rising growing pains and extremely busy schedules meant each Beatle had to record their part of the 1968 Christmas album separately. The fan record was a collage of noise between messages, poems, and brief snippets of their songs. McCartney gave a performance of the song, “Happy Christmas, Happy New Year.”

The Beatles’ Seventh Christmas Record: Happy Christmas 1969

By Christmas of 1969, The Beatles were virtually no more. Their final fan club Christmas record was made much the same as the previous, recorded separately and then pieced together. The result is a Beatles variety show of messages, well wishes, and songs, as well as a conversation between Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono about peace in the approaching 1970s.

Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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