Wednesday, October 24, 1984

Today in Music (1934): “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” recorded for first time

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

J. Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie (writers)

Writer(s): J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie (see lyrics here)

First Recorded: October 24, 1934 (Harry Reser & His Band)

First Charted: November 22, 1934 (George Hall)

Highest-Ranked Version Charted: December 27, 1947 (Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters)

Peak (all versions combined): 12 PM, 3 GA, 11 SM, 9 HP 51 CB, 29 GR, 80 HR, 2 AC, 53 CW, 15 CL, 9 UK, 29 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions – all versions): 2.0 US, 1.6 UK, 3.0 sheet music, 6.78 (world: includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions – all versions): -- radio, 219.22 video, 798.77 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie wrote “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” wrote this Christmas classic in 1934. It was first recorded by banjo player Harry Reser & His Band with Tom Stacks on vocal. It became a hit when Eddie Cantor performed it on his radio show in November 1934. It “an introductory verse about a lovely trip along the Milky Way and stopping off at the North Pole to spend a holiday where he called on dear old Santa Claus to hear his plans.” SM A half million copies of the sheet music then sold within 24 hours. WK

That same year George Hall & the Hotel Taft Orchestra featuring vocalist Sonny Schuyler had the first chart version of the song (#12 BB, 3 GA, 1 SM). He did not use the introduction Cantor performed, opting instead to go straight into the chorus. SM Hall, a New York-based bandleader, had thirteen chart hits from 1934 to 1938, including six top-10 hits. PM

The song has been covered more than 200 times, most notably in 1970 when Rankin-Bass produced Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, an hour-long animated TV movie, that featured Fred Astaire singing the song (7 DF).

The highest ranked version in Dave’s Music Database is the 1944 recording by Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters (22 BB, 16 GA, 9 HP, 80 HR, 4 DF). Others who have charted with the song include Michael Bublé (2011, #22 BB, 8 AC, 77 UK, 67 AU), Harry Connick Jr. (2004, #27 AC), the Four Seasons (1962, #23 BB), Natalie Grant (2005, #9 AC), Faith Hill (2008, #53 CW), Chris Isaak & Stevie Nicks (2004, #25 AC), the Jackson 5 (1970, #33 BB, 51 CB, 29 GR, 30 UK, 29 AU), Wynonna Judd (2006, #3 AC, 54 CW), Barry Manilow (2012, #2 AC), George Strait (1996, #69 CW), James Taylor (2005, #7 AC), Steve Tyrell (2002, #11 AC), and Wilson Phillips (2010, #22 AC).

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band recorded a live version of the song (15 CL, 9 UK, 2 DF) at C.W. Post College in Brookville, New York on December 12, 1975. WK It has become a classic rock favorite that was first released on the Sesame Street compilation In Harmony 2 in 1981 and later as the B-side to “My Hometown” in 1985. WK His version is my personal favorite, appearing in the book Dave’s Faves: The Grand Library.

There have also been versions by Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, the Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Tommy Dorsey, Bill Evans, the Glee Cast, Cyndi Lauper, Luis Miguel, Frank Sinatra, Straight No Chaser, the Supremes, the Temptations, and Andy Williams. WK


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First posted 12/20/2023.

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