‘Star Wars’ has a strange relationship with Christmas. For some reason, it just can’t seem to find the key to linking a galaxy far, far away with a Christian holiday on Earth, but it’s not because they haven’t tried. First, with the infamous ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’, which, contrary to popular belief, referenced Thanksgiving in its “Holiday” (it aired on November 17, 1978). The special was so bad that not even the dolls that were to be made to celebrate it and force fans to checkout came out of the factory. But there was still one more nail in the ignonimia.
In November 1980, an album was the first attempt of the galactic saga to break the confines of movies, comics and novels, trying to join Christmas and ‘Star Wars’ in a coherent way: ‘Christmas in the Stars’. The album was narrated and partially sung by Anthony Daniels, the mythical C3PO, and R2D2 and Chewbacca also contributed their parts in songs like ‘What can you buy a wookiee for Christmas (when he already has a comb)’. I wish I had made that up.
The album told stories about a droid factory that made toys for a certain S. Claus, Santa’s son, taking for granted the existence of Santa Claus in George Lucas’ universe. Be careful, because Meco Monardo, the author of the album, who wrote nine pages to Lucas indicating why they had to make Christmas versions, received telephone instructions from the director himself to take care of the franchise. For example, no one was to kiss Chewbacca. We didn’t know about George Lucas’ Wookiephobia. Maury Yeston, who two years later would win the Tony for ‘Nine’, was in charge of the musicality of the songs.
This absolutely insane money-spinning record was recorded at The Power Station, a studio where one John Bongiovi, the owner’s cousin, was mopping the floors at the age of 17. Tony, his relative, did him a favor by letting him try to get a song out. It worked and he ended up singing a song called ‘R2-D2 We wish you a merry Christmas’. John Bongiovi would record ‘Runaway’ a year later and would finally become Bon Jovi… although he will never be able to erase that his first experience was on a ‘Star Wars’ Christmas album.
It is worth remembering that in 1980 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was also released and fans were like crazy to get everything related to ‘Star Wars’… And, to make sure everything was going as it should, George Lucas sent Darth Vader himself to the studio to check that Meco was doing a good job. 150,000 copies were released and there was never a second edition at the time because of the Bee Gees, a lawsuit and the closure of RSO Music. But that’s a story for another time.