Everyone loves Christmas songs! Except people who hate them to bits because you’ve heard Slade’s “IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!” cockerel screech for the 37,000th time.
But otherwise, everyone loves Christmas songs.
And that’s why heavy metal band The Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho-Hitters failed disastrously in the late 1980s. No squealing guitar solo can save a band from songs such as Death, Destruction, and Christmas Pudding. This is the story… of the band.
The Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho-Hitter’s Rise and Snowfall
The band was formed in 1979 by singer Roger “Son of a Bitch Lunatic” Smith, the son of a London cabbie driver, and his guitarist friend Kevin “Bloody Christ Almighty Madman” Jones.
In the early days, they called their band simple The Sons of Septic Bitches.
The pair enlisted drummer Bob “Gangrene Apocalypse” Norris and bassist Mike “Punch to the Face” Henderson. Early songs focussed on prog-rock, before moving into ’80s thrash metal with big hair and thunderous cocaine addictions.
But by 1984, washed up and addicted, the group found their musical direction of singing about putrefied, rotting corpses wasn’t winning them much mainstream attention. Only the single Christmas is Disgusting got them a surprise top 10 singles chart success in 1983.
The band spent the income on masses of cocaine.
It was during that binge session that Roger “Son of a Bitch Lunatic” Smith decided to change the band’s musical direction—purely to Christmas hits. He told the BBC in October 1991:
“I figured, ‘Fuck this. What’s the point?! All I want to do is sit about filthy rich while snorting cocaine and I want an easy route to that. Slade have it right. They don’t have to work again, ever, if they don’t want because of that stupid song. I want that. I want a lie in every morning, not just five days out of seven! So we went out to earn that.”
And with that, the members changed musical direction and penned their most famous album—The Christmas Gangrene Apocalypse (1986).
The Christmas Gangrene Apocalypse
The band changed its name to The Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho-Hitters in early 1985. Due to ongoing cocaine addictions, the first album under this guise wasn’t completed until June 1986.
However, The Christmas Gangrene Apocalypse was the band’s turning point.
The album’s title was attributed to drummer Bob “Gangrene Apocalypse” Norris, who came up with the idea when he was out of it on cocaine. Hits included:
- Death, Destruction, and Christmas Pudding
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Gangrene
- Ho Ho Ho Holy Hell
- Jingle Bells and Rotting Smells
The band had four top #40 hits with them and earned enough money to fund their collective cocaine habit for 18 months.
Critically, the band was received as mediocre.
However, the lyrics for Death, Destruction, and Christmas Pudding were considered highly innovative for a thrash metal band. Particularly the lead up to the first chorus:
DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, DEATH!!
DESTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION!!
CHRISTMAS PUDDING! CHRISTMAS PUDDING! CHRISTMAS SON OF A SATAN SPAWN HELL KART PUDDING!!”
After the relative commercial success of the first album, the Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho-Hitters became lost in a quagmire of cocaine addiction.
Although Bob “Gangrene Apocalypse” Norris attributed overcoming his cocaine addiction to the inspiration of Santa Claus.
He chastised the band for sitting about taking cocaine all day, but bassist Mike “Punch to the Face” Henderson just punched him in the face. It was whilst Norris lay unconscious on the floor that Roger “Son of a Bitch Lunatic” Smith penned the follow up album Christmas Cocaine whilst in a cocaine frenzy.
The ambitious 18 track album was a indictment of cocaine addiction, but when it launched in December 1989 (delayed for years due to the band’s cocaine addiction), it was a critical and commercial disaster.
However, the band’s main problem was the members found their popularity waned for huge proportions of the year, before suddenly surging back into the limelight during the winter seasons.
Roger “Son of a Bitch Lunatic” Smith told the BBC in November 1991:
“It was weird. Everyone loves Christmas hits! But they just didn’t take to our music at, like, the height of summer or anything. We had a long, hard think about it and assumed it was down to the drummer Bob ‘Gangrene Apocalypse’ Norris. He’s from Manchester. The rest of us are from London. That Northern dunce was ruining us so we kicked him out of the band and got someone from Kingston in. The new guy was a shit drummer but, you know, he didn’t sound like he’d been born with a plastic spoon stuck up his arse.”
The new drummer was addicted to cocaine within 48 hours of joining the band.
A month later, in January 1990, the four members had a notorious argument on the streets of London whilst buying cocaine from a cocaine dealer.
All the members were arrested and charged by the police for possession of class A narcotics. The band was promptly dropped by their record label in mid-1991.
Roger “Son of a Bitch Lunatic” Smith told the BBC in 1991:
“The second album was called Christmas Cocaine… what did they think it was about? I don’t get why they dropped us when they knew we were on the stuff anyway it was just a cop out. Bastards!”
The record label, after reading these remarks in the music press, sued the singer for libel, won, and he had to hand over £7,000 in damages.
The Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho-Hitters in Later Years
Roger “Son of a Bitch Lunatic” Smith quit music in late 1992. He also quit cocaine in 1993 in favour of becoming a heroin addict and alcoholic, a career path he continues to enjoy as a penniless beatnik to this day.
As for the remaining members of The Christmas Ho-Ho-Ho-Hitters…
The new drummer, Kevin “Bloody Christ Almighty Madman” Jones, and Mike “Punch to the Face” Henderson formed a threesome thrash metal band called Cocaine in 1994.
However, no music was ever released by Cocaine due to the excessive use of cocaine by all three members.
The only surviving bootleg recording, taken from a 1995 jamming session, includes a 35 minute argument between the members about who got to snort the first line of cocaine from their latest batch. The band split up in 1996 to pursue cocaine-induced solo albums.
But what of Bob “Gangrene Apocalypse” Norris?
Sadly, he developed gangrene in 1997 and lost a big toe to the condition. He swore off cocaine and took up chronic alcoholism whilst frittering his way between thrash metal bands.
He released an autobiography in 2019 titled Tis the Season to be Jolly (On Cocaine). The book sold 350 copies and is now out of print.