Christmas one hit wonder stars now – Tragic deaths, royalties and radio fame

Like it or loathe it, there's no escaping Christmas songs at this time of year.

Whether its grabbing the last bit of shopping for the big day, waiting to watch a pantomime or turning on your radio, as soon as December 1 arrives, Christmas hits are everywhere.

Along with the usual suspects such as Paul McCartney, Slade, Wizzard and even The Wombles, lots of musicians have produced huge festive records that we still be singing for years to come – including some whose only chart topping hits were at Christmas time.

Daily Star has taken a look at where some of the creators of Christmas one hit wonders are now.

Flying Pickets – Only you

First a huge hit for Yazoo in 1982, acapella group Flying Pickets made Only You a Christmas number one in 1983 – complete with a festive performance dressed as snowmen on Top of the Pops.

Having started a vocal group to keep them entertained on the bus while touring the play One Big Blow, about a miner's brass band, they began singing in pubs and clubs.

It was the audience at one of their gigs that persuaded them to record Only You and release it as a single – and as they say, the rest is history.

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Group member Rick Lloyd told The Guardian: "Only You wasn’t intended as a Christmas hit but our version does have a festive vibe, somehow.

"I’d always wanted to be in the studio when someone made a No 1 record. I never imagined it would be us.

Since then, the line up for the Flying Pickets has changed, but the group continue to tour and perform in venues across the world.

However singer Brian Hibbard, who sang lead vocals on Only You, died on June 17 2021 at age 65 from prostate cancer.

Jona Lewie – Stop the Cavalry

Jona Lewie's Stop the Cavalry has one of the catchiest brass band melodies in history, with the song becoming a Christmas classic since its release in 1980.

With lyrics such as "wish I was at home for Christmas", he told The Express that he had no idea it would be a Christmas hit.

He said: "It’s great to have a single that’s up there with White Christmas and Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody that gets played every December. Sometimes I hear it in a shop and I’m like, ‘Crikey, that’s me!"

The song has even been featured in some of the biggest tv programmes, including Black Mirror, EastEnders and Peter Kay's Comedy Shuffle.

Since then he has also released a number of albums, and appeared on the 2005 programme Bring Back…The Christmas Number One alongside stars such as David Essex.

Jona now lives in London with his partner and they have a son and it was reported by the Daily Mail that Stop the Cavalry generates over £120,000 a year in royalties.

Renee and Renato – Save your love

Vocal duo Renee and Renato brought a lot of romance to the festive chart in 1982, when they reached number one with their ballad Save your love.

The video saw Renato wooing a model playing Renee, with scenes including Renato serenading her from the window and handing her a rose.

After the success of the song, the duo released a further two songs including Just One More Kiss, but neither made it into the top 40.

Renee, whose real name was Hilary Lester, joined another group and then married a Concert Lighting Designer.

She is reported to have retired from show business following the birth of her son.

Renato Pagliari continued to perform on cruise ships and featured on the ITV programme Little and Large, but was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died on July 29 2009.

His son paid tribute to him following his death, saying: "He had two great passions – his family and performing. Even in hospital he was singing to the other patients in the ward.

"He was happiest when performing and when the grandchildren were around him."

The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

American new wave band The Waitresses released their pop rock classic Christmas Wrapping in 1982 and since then, it has been used in a number of films, tv programmes and adverts.

It has even been covered by some of music's biggest stars, including Kylie Minogue and The Spice Girls.

Tracy Wormworth who played bass said to The Guardian: "I had no idea how catchy the song would prove to be. It would trip me out if I walked into a chain store and it was playing. I used to say: “Oh, that’s me!”

"I’m proud of Christmas Wrapping but I don’t do that any more."

The band, who were also known for songs such as I know what boys like, were together for six years before splitting up in 1984.

Bassist Tracy Wormworth continued working as a musician for artists including the B-52s and Sting, while Chris Butler is working as a musician and producer.

Lead singer Patricia Jean Donahue who provided the vocals for their iconic Christmas track, went on to work in A&R at a record label, but died aged 40 of lung cancer on December 9 1996.

Michael Andrews and Gary Jules – Mad World

Mad World was a huge hit for music legends Tears for Fears back in the eighties, with Michael Andrews and Gary Jules covering the song in 2003 for the Donnie Darko soundtrack.

Although not a festive hit, it became the Christmas number one in the same year, with The Darkness' record Christmas Time (don't let the bells end) narrowly missing out of the top spot.

Since then, Michael Andrews has recorded the music for some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters including Bridesmaids, Daddy's Home and television series New Girl.

Gary Jules also continues to make music and has provided music for films including 2014's Wish I Was Here.

Aled Jones – Walking in the Air

It wouldn't be Christmas without hearing Aled Jones singing Walking in the Air, from the heartwarming cartoon The Snowman.

However, the song was actually originally recorded by Peter Auty for the cartoon, before Aled's version topped the charts in 1985.

It wasn't a Christmas number one though, as Shaking Steven's and his memorable dance moves reached the top spot with Merry Christmas Everyone.

Walking in the Air still became a Christmas classic though, propelling Aled to fame as one of classical music's biggest stars.

Since then, Aled hasn't left our tv screens or our radios, hosting Classic FM's breakfast show on a Sunday morning, and releasing duet albums with fellow classical singer Russell Watson.

He married his wife Claire Fossett in 2001, and they had two children together.

Performing seems to run in the family too, as his daughter Emilia has appeared in the stage production of Shrek in the West End, and son Lucas duetted with his father Aled on one of his favourite hymns for the album One Voice: Believe.

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