Marc Bolan probably wouldn’t have expected that his rivals for the UK’s prestigious Christmas No.1 spot in 1972 would include a former Beatle or a novelty disc by a 46-year-old rock’n’roller. Or that the T. Rex single, John & Yoko’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over),” and Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling” would all lose out to a nine-year-old.
Little Jimmy Osmond may have won that battle with “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool,” but Bolan and co’s “Solid Gold Easy Action” won an enduring place in the T.Rex catalog, after entering the chart on December 9.
“Solid Gold Easy Action” thus became the second consecutive single by Bolan and the band to peak at No.2 in less than three months. “Children Of The Revolution” had been held off the top spot by first Slade’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and then David Cassidy’s “How Can I Be Sure.”
Four of the six previous T.Rex singles had gone to No.1; the exceptions were the No.7 reissue of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s “Debora”/“One Inch Rock,” and “Jeepster,” also kept at No.2 the year before. That, too, suffered at the hands of a novelty hit that became the Christmas No.1, Benny Hill’s “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West).”
An ELO connection?
Such were the eccentricities of the UK singles chart, but “Solid Gold” was a lively addition to a canon that, surprisingly, would only produce two more Top 10 singles before Bolanmania began to subside somewhat. According to the jefflynnesongs.com website, the Electric Light Orchestra frontman played guitar on the single, written by Bolan and produced as usual by Tony Visconti.
There was another, lesser-known contender for the Christmas charts that year, in the form of Visconti himself. The American producer and his wife of the time, Welsh singing star Mary Hopkin, recorded the traditional “Mary Had A Baby” just before she did indeed give birth to their son Delaney (who later changed his name to Morgan). It was released as a festive single, but didn’t trouble the chart compilers.