One of Mother’s albums that I loved was “The Original Gene Autry Sings: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. I believe the album was released in 1957 but the single for “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in September of 1949. The album contains twelve Christmas songs by “the Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry.
Orvon Grover “Gene” Autry (September 29, 1907 – October 2, 1998), was an American singer, songwriter, actor, musician, rodeo performer, and baseball owner who gained fame largely by singing in a crooning style on radio, in films, and on television for more than three decades beginning in the early 1930s. Gene’s recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, was written by Johnny Marks, and is based on the 1939 story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company.
It hit No. 1 in the US charts during Christmas 1949. The song was suggested as a “B” side for a record Autry was making but at first he rejected it, but his wife convinced him to use the song. Autry’s version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only chart-topping hit to fall completely off the chart after reaching No. 1.
The official date of its No. 1 status was for the week ending January 7, 1950, making it the first No. 1 song of the 1950s. Autry’s recording sold 1.75 million copies in its first Christmas season and 1.5 million the following year. In 1969, it was awarded a gold disk by the RIAA for sales of 7 million, which was Columbia’s highest-selling record at the time.
Tracks Side One
- Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Nine Little Reindeer
- Jingle Bells
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- Up On The House Top
Tracks Side Two
- Sleigh Bells
- O Little Town Of Bethlehem
- Silent Night
- Joy To The World
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas
- Away In A Manger
- What Child Is This
It eventually sold a total of 12.5 million. Cover versions included, sales exceed 150 million copies, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The album also contains “Up on the Housetop” a Christmas song written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864.
It has been recorded by a multitude of singers, most notably Gene Autry in 1953. “Here Comes Santa Claus” was written and originally performed by Gene Autry, with music composed by Oakley Haldeman. Autry’s original recording (in which he pronounces Santa Claus as “Santy Claus”) was a top-10 hit on the pop and country charts. Autry got the idea for the song after riding his horse in the 1946 Santa Claus Lane Parade (now the Hollywood Christmas Parade) in Los Angeles, during which crowds of spectators chanted, “Here comes Santa Claus”.
This inspired him to write a song that Haldeman set to music. Autry’s lyrics combined two veins of the Christmas tradition, the mythology of Santa Claus and the Christian origin of the holiday (most explicitly in its mention of the nativity promise of “peace on Earth” to those who “follow the light”). Autry first recorded the song on August 28, 1947; released it as a single by Columbia Records.
It became a No. 5 country and No. 9 pop hit. Autry performed the song in his 1949 movie The Cowboy and the Indians. He re-recorded it again in 1953 for Columbia, and once more in 1957 for his own Challenge Records label, which released it on more than one album that year.