There’s nothing as eternal as a good Christmas song.

While other types of tunes come and go based on popular styles of the time, holiday tracks have a never ending life. Every year as November rolls into December, you hear the same festive classics blaring on your radio or getting played over the department store loudspeaker.

Many of rock’s biggest names -- including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Queen, Tom Petty, and David Bowie -- have tried their hand at Christmas tunes. We’re pretty confident you know how the careers of those artists have progressed since their festive hits, but what about the acts who fell further off the radar?

Below, we’ve collected info on 15 holiday hitmakers, with updates on where they are now.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

The Hit: "Fairytale of New York"
A Celtic punk band may seem like an unlikely source for a holiday classic, but perhaps that’s why the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” continues to resonate decades after its release. With the gravelly voice of frontman Shane MacGowan, coupled with the sweet style of guest vocalist Kirsty MacColl, the song sounds unlike any other holiday tune. Still, its themes remain universal, dealing with love, loss and regrets. Originally released in 1987, the single has topped charts in the U.K. and Ireland and has regularly been voted among the greatest holiday songs ever recorded.

Where Are They Now?
After years of success in the U.K., the Pogues, who went through several lineup changes, officially called it quits in 1996. They reunited in 2001 and had another brief run before breaking up again in 2004, seemingly for good.

MacGowan made random guest appearances and collaborations over the years, but his health took a turn in 2022 when he was diagnosed with encephalitis, a swelling of the brain which can cause seizures and problems with speech.

Co-founder Spider Stacy has played with a wide variety of acts since the Pogues ended, including collaborations with Patti Smith, the Dropkick Murphys and Steve Earle. He lives in New Orleans and has assembled a local Cajun band, dubbed Poguetry, which performs Pogues material.

Accordion player James Fearnley relocated to Los Angeles where he and his wife have raised their family. In 2012 he released the memoir Here Comes Everybody: The Story of the Pogues, and in 2019 Fearnley joined Flogging Molly's Ted Hutt and Marc Orrell of Dropkick Murphys in the Celtic punk supergroup, the Walker Roaders.

Kristy MacColl’s life was tragically cut short in 2000. While on a vacation to Mexico with her daily, the singer was struck and killed by a powerboat which had entered a restricted area that was supposed to only be for divers. Controversy swirled around the tragedy as the boat was owned by a multimillionaire who allegedly paid one of his employees to take the blame for the accident.


The Hit: "Merry Xmas Everybody"
It was the mother-in-law of Slade’s bassist/violinist/songwriter Jimmy Lea who first suggested the band write a Christmas song. Lea, along with vocalist Noddy Holder, eventually did just that. With festive lyrics and upbeat energy, Slade’s glam rock holiday tune “Merry Xmas Everybody” became an immediate hit upon release in 1973. The tune became a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and has routinely reentered the singles chart there annually ever since. It became Slade’s best-selling single – beating out the likes of “Cum On Feel the Noize” and “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me.” In 2015, the Daily Mail estimated "Merry Xmas Everybody" generates 500,000 pounds (roughly $636,549.50) in royalties every year.

Where Are They Now?
Slade has endured a rollercoaster career, featuring massive hits, roster changes and periods of declining popularity. Holder quit the band in 1992 after 26 years in the group. Since then he’s focussed on other avenues of the entertainment industry, becoming a radio host, TV personality and actor. Lea followed Holder out the door in ‘92 and turned his attention towards other ventures, including real estate. He has released occasional solo material, the most recent being a pair of singles – “Smile of Elvis” and “Am I the Greatest Now” – in 2022. Guitarist Dave Hill is the only founding member still remaining in Slade. The group continues to tour, mainly in the U.K. and Europe.

Greg Lake

The Hit: "I Believe in Father Christmas"
Far from a typical holiday hit, Greg Lake’s 1975 hit “I Believe in Father Christmas” featured intricate, pensive songwriting mixed with swirling orchestral arrangements. Lyrically, the tune tackled the commercialization of Christmas, with Lake questioning the sparkly version of the holiday we’re all sold in comparison to its place in the real world. Though Lake had plenty of commercial success as part of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “I Believe in Father Christmas” was the biggest hit of his solo career.

Where Are They Now?
Lake continued with ELP until the band’s breakup in 1979. Over the years he released solo material, briefly joined the supergroup Asia and later reunited with ELP. Late career highlights included runs with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, solo tours, further work with Keith Emerson and stints producing for other artists. Lake died in 2016 at the age of 69 after battling cancer.

Billy Squier

The Hit: "Christmas Is the Time to Say 'I Love You'"
Singer Billy Squier became a star in 1981 thanks to his breakout hit “The Stroke.” It was the start of a decade of success for the rocker, and he released his first holiday song in November of that year. “Christmas Is the Time to Say 'I Love You'" was the b-side to “My Kinda Lover,” which peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, the holiday tune experienced extra attention that December when Squier performed it on MTV alongside the upstart channel’s VJs and staff. His rendition of “Christmas Is the Time to Say 'I Love You'" became an early MTV highlight and started a brief annual tradition of rock stars stopping by the studio for a holiday sing-along.

Where Are They Now?
Now in his ‘70s, Squier doesn’t tour as often as he used to. According to, the rocker’s last full tour was in 2013, though Squier’s own website notes a “mini-tour” in 2017. The singer has released nine studio albums in his career and most recently put out the single “Harder on a Woman” in 2023.

Brenda Lee

The Hit: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
Brenda Lee was just 11 years old when she recorded her first single. Two years later she recorded the holiday tune that is still her most identifiable track. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – penned by prolific holiday songwriter Johnny Marks (he was also behind “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”) – was released in 1958 and immediately became a Christmas staple. It went on to sell more than 25 million copies worldwide and has appeared in a long list of films and TV shows.

Where Are They Now?
Lee went on to have a hugely successful career, largely in the country genre. The singer has released an astounding 29 studio albums and has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. In the ‘60s alone she landed 46 songs in the Billboard Hot 100, more than any other female recording artist. Her most recent album, Gospel Duets with Treasured Friends, was released in 2007. Two years later she was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2023 she released a the EP A Rockin’ Christmas with Brenda Lee, and released a new music video for “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” to honor the classic song’s 65th anniversary.

The Vandals

The Hit: “Oi to the World”
Punk rock group the Vandals originally released the song “Oi to the World” in 1996. At the time, it earned little attention outside of the band’s fanbase. However the group maintained a close friendship with fellow So-Cal rockers No Doubt. When Gwen Stefani’s band covered “Oi to the World” for a 1997 compilation album, awareness of the original grew exponentially. “Oi to the World” has since maintained its place on alternative Christmas playlists everywhere, boasting joyous, frenzied energy fit for mosh pits and ugly sweater parties alike.

Where Are They Now?
While the Vandals never achieved widespread commercial success, the band – which formed in 1980 – has maintained an influential place among modern punk acts. Vandals bassist Joe Escalante has enjoyed a career in film and television, working at different points for CBS and the Discovery channel, while also producing and directing various projects. He also co-founded Kung Fu Records alongside Vandals guitarist Warren Fitzgerald. The independent label remains an active force in punk rock, and notably was the first home to Blink 182. Fitzgerald has also collaborated with Oingo Boingo, the Offspring and composer Danny Elfman. Meanwhile, Vandals drummer Josh Freese has worked with just about every major artist you can think of, including Nine Inch Nails, Devo, Guns N’ Roses, Weezer and Sting. In 2023 he became the Foo Fighters' drummer, replacing the late Taylor Hawkins.

Darlene Love

The Hit: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Singer Darlene Love had already developed a rapport with Phil Spector when the producer began work on his 1963 holiday album A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector. Love was enlisted to sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” a soulful tune about longing to be with the one you love during the holidays. Interestingly, the song wasn’t an immediate success. Instead, it steadily earned its place as a holiday classic, appearing in a wide array of TV shows and movies. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2022, nearly 60 years after its original release.

Where Are They Now?
Love continued working as an in-demand session singer for many years, contributing to work from the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Sonny and Cher and Dionne Warwick, among others. As a solo artist, she’s released five studio albums, most recently Introducing Darlene Love in 2015. She has also enjoyed a successful acting career on both stage and screen. Fans may recognize her as Trish Murtaugh, wife of Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), in the Lethal Weapon franchise of films. She most recently appeared as Grace in the 2020 holiday flick The Christmas Chronicles 2.

The Kinks

The Hit: "Father Christmas"
With 24 studio albums, a laundry list of hit songs and a legacy as one of rock’s most influential acts, the Kinks’ resume speaks for itself. The band was already more than a decade into their career when they released their 1977 holiday single “Father Christmas.” The song’s lyrics, which detailed the robbing of a department store Santa to highlight the inequality of social classes, were far from the typical holiday fare. Perhaps that’s why “Father Christmas” has continued to be a favorite, standing out among most other Christmas tracks. Over the years, the song has been covered by an array of artists, including Green Day, Warrant, Bad Religion, Cheap Trick and Smash Mouth.

Where Are They Now?
So if the Kinks are so well-known, why are they on this list? Well, their modern history is far murkier than their impressive legacy. The band broke up in 1997 and its members went on to various solo pursuits. Bassist Peter Quaife died in 2010, but the three remaining original members – Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Mick Avory – are still alive and active. Ray Davies has released seven solo albums, Dave has released eight (along with a movie soundtrack) and Avory has played with everyone from the Animals to From the Jam. Despite interest in further Kinks material, the band has not released a studio album in over 30 years and their last concert was in 1996. The Davies brothers, who have a long history of feuding, have each at various points expressed interest in working together again, yet nothing has materialized from those rumors. Still, music fans all over the world hold out hope that the Kinks are not totally done.

The Waitresses

The Hit: "Christmas Wrapping"
New wave group the Waitresses released their quirky holiday tune “Christmas Wrapping” in 1981. Penned by the band’s guitarist and chief songwriter Chris Butler, the song – which focused on the stress and exhaustion surrounding Christmas, rather than the glittery, heartwarming elements – gained unexpected popularity. Part of its appeal can be attributed to singer Patty Donahue, whose distinctive (borderline sarcastic) vocals became instantly recognizable.

Where Are They Now?
The Waitresses were only together for five years and broke up in 1983. Butler became a record producer and released solo material, most recently the album Got It Togehter! which arrived in 2018. Drummer Billy Ficca, who had been in the band Television before joining the Waitresses, reunited with that group and has been part of their modern lineup since 2001. Saxophonist Mars Williams joined the Psychedelic Furs following the Waitresses disbandment. He died of cancer in 2023 at the age of 68. Sadly, cancer also took the life of Donahue. The singer, who had been a heavy smoker throughout her adult life, died in 1996.


The Hit: "Lonely This Christmas"
English glam rock group Mud enjoyed a brief but sensational period of success, scoring 14 U.K. Top 20 hits between 1973 and 1976. Among them was “Lonely This Christmas,” which hit No. 1 in December 1974. The tune was penned by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the songwriting duo who crafted many of the era’s glam hits. Still, "Lonely This Christmas" deviated greatly from the genre. Instead, the tune was more like a classic Elvis ballad, with a slow lilt, backing harmonies and lyrics about being alone during the holiday season (echoing the King’s “Blue Christmas”).

Where Are They Now?
Mud’s popularity waned in the latter half of the ‘70s and the group officially disbanded in 1980. Lead singer Les Gray went on to a solo career, but later formed Les Gray’s Mud and continued performing his previous band’s material. He died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 57. Following Mud, guitarist Rob Davis enjoyed a successful second act to his career by writing songs for dance artists. Among the hits he penned was “Can't Get You Out of My Head,” the chart-topping 2001 single by Kylie Minogue. Davis rejoined with Mud bassist Ray Stiles in 2015 to perform a series of gigs honoring their classic ‘70s band. They have continued playing occasional shows since then.

The Carpenters

The Hit: “Merry Christmas, Darling”
Brother and sister duo the Carpenters got the initial idea and song lyrics for “Merry Christmas, Darling” from Frank Pooler, the choral director at California State University, Long Beach where the two were enrolled. Richard Carpenter rewrote the song’s melody, while Karen gave it her distinctive emotive voice. They recorded and released it in 1970, following their breakthrough success with the album Close to You. “Merry Christmas, Darling” became a holiday hit, and the Carpenters re-released it on several occasions, including a re-recorded version featured on their 1978 album Christmas Portrait.

Where Are They Now?
The Carpenters enjoyed huge success throughout the ‘70s, including five albums which reached platinum sales or better. With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide, they rank among the most commercially successful duos in music history. Sadly, Karen suffered from anorexia, a disorder compounded by the pressures of fame and her complicated family dynamics. She died in 1983 at the age of 32 due to heart failure related to anorexia. Richard continued his career as a solo artist, however he has only released three albums in the 40 years since Karen’s death. The most recent, Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook, came out in 2022.

Jose Feliciano

The Hit: "Feliz Navidad"
Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Feliciano released “Feliz Navidad” in 1970. The earnest tune, with lyrics in both English and Spanish, struck a chord with listeners everywhere. “Feliz Navidad” became a Top 10 hit and one of the most recognized holiday songs in history. It is the second highest charting single of Feliciano’s career, behind only his 1968 reinterpretation of the Doors “Light My Fire.”

Where Are They Now?
Feliciano has remained a prolific musician, releasing a total of 56 studio albums throughout his career. He continues to perform, and has played at such distinctive locations as the Smithsonian and the Vatican in recent years. He has been honored with the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Latin Music Hall of Fame, yet even in his late-’70s, the singer has shown no signs of slowing. His most recent LP, Behind This Guitar, was released in 2020.

Bobby Helms

The Hit: "Jingle Bell Rock"
One of the earliest instances of rock music and yuletide cheer coming together was the 1957 classic “Jingle Bell Rock.” Performed by rockabilly singer Bobby Helms, the tune remains one of the most enduring holiday songs in popular music. The original peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. More than 60 years later, it reached No. 3 in 2019, which remains the song’s chart peak.

Where Are They Now?
Though “Jingle Bell Rock” is the most famous of Helms' songs, he released several other hits in his career, including “Fraulein,” “My Special Angel” and “Jacqueline,” which all reached the Top 5 of Billboard's Country songs chart. Helms also maintained throughout his career that he had co-written “Jingle Bell Rock” with session guitarist Hank Garland, rather than Joe Beal and Jim Boothe, the two men who were credited for the song (and thus received royalties). Helms died in 1997 at the age of 63 due to complications from emphysema.


The Hit: "Last Christmas"
Unless you happen to hibernate from November through January every year, there’s no way you’ve avoided Wham’s 1984 classic “Last Christmas.” The tune – which is more about a broken heart than anything holiday related – remains one of the most popular Christmas songs ever recorded. Upon its original release, the single reached No. 2 in the U.K., blocked from the top spot by another famed holiday song, Band Aid’s "Do They Know It's Christmas.” For decades, “Last Christmas” had been the U.K.'s best-selling single to never reach the top of the singles chart, however it finally reached No. 1 in January 2021.

Where Are They Now?
Wham, made up of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, enjoyed massive success in the ‘80s, selling more than 30 million albums worldwide. The duo disbanded in ‘86 at which point Michael went on to his own prolific solo career. The singer released five solo LPs, including the hugely popular album Faith (1987). Michael sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, however his career was marred by controversy including arrests for drug related charges and public sex. Despite this, he remained a popular figure in the world of music up until his death in 2016.

Meanwhile, Ridgeley tried his hand at acting and motor car racing following the end of Wham. He then embarked on a solo music career, which enjoyed moderate success but paled in comparison to his former Wham partner. Ridgeley largely shunned the public spotlight for many years and reportedly turned down opportunities to reunite with Michael (who he remained close friends with). When Michael was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2023, Ridgeley did the honors of remembering his former bandmate.


The Hit: “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”
The same year that Slade released “Merry Xmas Everybody,” fellow U.K. rockers Wizzard put out “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.” The group’s frontman was Roy Wood, formerly of the Move and a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra. It was Wood who wrote the holiday tune, reportedly because he believed Christmas songs had long gone out of fashion. Though “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” was overshadowed by “Merry Xmas Everybody,” it nonetheless has enjoyed a long life, reaching the Top 5 upon release and becoming a staple of many holiday playlists ever since.

Where Are They Now?
Wizzard split up in 1975, with Wood later pursuing a solo career and producing for other artists. In 1981, Wizard decided to re-release “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” but discovered the master tapes had been destroyed. They re-recorded the track and put it out once more to marginal success. Though it didn’t hit the same chart heights as the original, this version is the one most commonly heard on radio and in television commercials these days. Wood was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 as a member of ELO. More recently, the rocker partnered with Nelson’s Distillery to release a special, limited edition gin called Christmas Cheer in 2021.

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