On this day in history….30th June 1956

On this day in history : 30th June 1956 – ‘I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas’ by the Goons enters the British music charts – six months after Christmas….

The Goons – Fair use

During the 1950s the BBC was one of the biggest employers of musicians – but it also played contemporary music in the form of records…. At the same time new technology had arrived making it possible to pre-record programmes, rather than everything going out live…. In early 1956 negotiations began between the BBC, the copyright licensing organisation Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and the Musicians’ Union – who wanted restricted recorded music…. However, talks broke down resulting in the 1956 Musicians’ Strike….

Radio comedy shows of the time, of which the Goon Show was one, had their roots in the old music hall performances – and so their format was expected to have musical breaks…. One episode of the Goon Show that was recorded during the Musicians’ Strike was episode 13 of series 6, ‘The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal’ in February 1956…. The plot involved Ned Seagoon attempting to prevent a war with the other side of the Spaghetti Curtain by tracking down the missing breeding pair of ground-to-ground salami missiles that had been fitted with war heads….

With no professional musicians available something had to be done to fill the void that should have contained a musical interlude…. So to prevent radio-silence Spike Milligan quickly composed a song, which he then performed accompanied by Peter Sellars….

The original song was only about 50 seconds long but proved extremely popular with the audience and the Goon team realised they could be on to something….

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After signing with Decca in the Spring of 1956 the song was revamped and added to – and then quickly released so it could be got into the shops…. It reached No.4 in the UK charts – and was also released in the States – but was not received with the same enthusiasm (not everyone gets British humour)….

I’m walking backwards for Christmas,
Across the Irish Sea,
I’m walking backwards for Christmas,
It’s the only thing for me....

Ive tried walking sideways,
And walking to the front,
But people just look at me,
And say it’s a publicity stunt....

I’m walking backwards for Christmas,
To prove that I love you....