The Scot who wrote Shakin’ Stevens’ Christmas classic

Edinburgh songwriter who penned Merry Christmas Everyone knew immediately it would be a hit.

It’s a Christmas party classic and has racked up more than 83 million hits on YouTube, but did you know Shakin’ Stevens classic Merry Christmas Everyone has its roots in Scotland.

Written for Shakey in 1985 by Edinburgh musician and producer Bob Heatlie, the man behind the classic said he knew after penning the first few lyrics it was going to be a smash hit.

“I felt that – I always get that feeling actually,” he told STV News. “I just know right away there’s something here. And I wonder, did that come from me?”

“I always wanted a Christmas hit, it’s something that lives on forever whereas the others get forgotten about. I wanted a really good party song, and its been wonderful. It’s changed my life.”

Bob started his career at a young age, learning the saxophone before moving onto drums. His father taught him how to read music, and Bob began playing in a band which took him all over the world, including to the USSR during the Cold War and in the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

He built his own recording studio in Edinburgh and got his big break in 1981 producing fellow Scot Aneka’s No.1 hit Japanese Boy, which then led him directly to Shakey for whom he wrote two more chart toppers, Cry Just a Little Bit and Breaking Up Your Heart.

They remain good friends to this day and continue to meet up when Shakey tours in Scotland. “I’m very proud of it, he’s been good to me old Shakey,” Bob says.

Speaking about what makes a festive classic, Bob says the days of producing Christmas songs that linger in the memory are all but over. “I think I was the last one through the door, there’s Slade etc, but there’s never been another one since that’s got into that bag and stayed there. So I’m lucky.”

And 34 years on, Bob says he never tires of hearing his most famous creation.

“I remember one day walking through an Edinburgh shopping mall, and it [my song] was playing and there was two girls passing me both arm in arm singing my song. And I wanted to say, ‘that’s me!’. But I couldn’t do it.”

Bob continues to write and produce music from his home in Edinburgh, and has two sons in the music business, one is a trainer for Gwen Stefani, and another has his own recording studio. 

But funnily enough he’s not a huge fan of the festive season…”Bah humbug!” he said, “It’s strange isn’t it, I’ve got this big Christmas hit but I’m not really a Christmassy guy! I don’t know why!”