The single was released in the UK in 1972 and was a protest against the Vietnam War. The song was controversial at the time but has achieved widespread popularity.
It was based on John and Yoko’s campaign, renting billboards to proclaim ‘War is Over! (If You Want It)”. Phil Spector was involved in producing the song, which features children from the Harlem Community Choir with backing vocals.
The song begins with spoken Christmas greetings from Ono and Lennon to their children from previous relationships: Ono whispers, “Happy Christmas, Kyoko”, then Lennon whispers, “Happy Christmas, Julian”.
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” enjoyed immediate success in Britain when issued here in November 1972. The song peaked at No.4 on the UK sales charts and since then has re-entered the chart a further nine times. The most notable of these instances occurred immediately following Lennon’s death in December 1980. The single peaked at No.2 – behind another Lennon single, Imagine – and remained on the chart for nine weeks.
The Yorkshire public’s choice of such a political song contrasted with the rest of the country, which favoured more light-hearted offerings. The study was carried out by vouchercloud.com, as they undertook seasonal research about Britons’ habits around Christmas time.
• East of England – Chris Rea, Driving Home For Christmas (23%)
• North West – Mel and Kim, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (22%)
• Scotland – Cliff Richard, Mistletoe And Wine (21%)
• London – Band Aid, Do They Know It’s Christmas? (20%)
• South East – Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas (20%)
• Northern Ireland – Slade, Merry Xmas Everybody (19%)
• North East – Boney M, Mary’s Boy Child (17%)
• Yorkshire – John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (16%)
• South West – David Bowie & Bing Crosby, Little Drummer Boy (11%)
• Wales – Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews, Baby It’s Cold Outside (10%)
• East Midlands – Jackson 5, Santa Clause Is Coming To Town (8%)
• West Midlands – Wham, Last Christmas (6%)