East 17 Christmas Number One 'Stay Another Day' Is 25 Years Old
When you think of Christmas, there are a few songs that come to mind straight away - Wham!'s 'Last Christmas', John Lennon's 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)', and The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York', being some.
But no festive compilation or party would be complete without East 17's classic 'Stay Another Day', which topped the Christmas charts in 1994, beating Mariah Carey's beast 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' to the number one spot, where it stayed for five weeks.
Well, 25 years since its release, the tune remains an enduring hit. But the festive anthem almost didn't make it to the airwaves, as band member Tony Mortimer felt it was too personal.
He wrote the song after the death of his brother Ollie - who took his own life - after being inspired by a friend's father who almost died but managed to hold on for another 24 hours.
Speaking to Time Out about the song, Mortimer said: "I thought I'd write a love song about longing and the end of a relationship, but the muse behind it was really my brother's suicide. For me, it's an incredibly sad song.
"I remember the record company telling me it was going to be a hit. And I was like 'You ain't releasing that'."
Earlier this month, Mortimer opened up about his brother's death and said he had 'no control' over the song once he had recorded it.
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Speaking on This Morning, the 49-year-old said: "It was a very delicate album track that was never to be released, ever, but people liked it and I said: 'No, you can't release that because it's kind of a personal one'.
"Having no control at all, it got released and it became the biggest hit that we have ever had."
He went on: "My brother committed suicide a couple of years before and I used that as the muse to write a song about loss.
"It turned into a love song - I didn't write my brother a love song, I used that as the loss behind it, and a friend of mine had lost her father.
"It was a really personal song just to stay on the album, no-one would know about it... For me, it was so surreal - of all the songs on the album you chose that one!"
Earlier this month, Mortimer re-recorded the hit with the Walthamstow Forest Youth Choir to raise awareness for mental health charity Calm.
He said: "Everyone remembers Stay Another Day as a Christmas record, but underneath the white parkas and fake snow is a song about male mental health and a story about my brother who took his own life.
"Calm is a charity very close to my heart and I hope this release gives people who are struggling with the confidence to speak up and seek help."
Featured Image Credit: London Recordings