Here Comes Santa Claus was inspired by a Christmas parade.
In 1946, the original singing cowboy, Gene Autry, was riding Champion, his horse, down Hollywood Boulevard in the annual Christmas parade.
He was placed just a few spots ahead of Santa Claus. He noticed that no one was paying any attention to him. They were all shouting, “Here Comes Santa Claus!”
In the summer of 1947, Art Satherly suggested that Autry record the Christmas song, An Old Fashioned Christmas. They needed a song for the B-side of the album, and Autry remembered the idea he had at the Christmas parade. Autry was inspired to write the song. Oakley Haldeman set the lyrics to music.
The demo was recorded by Johnny Boyd, who had Art Satherly standing beside him as he recorded. The ice from Satherly’s drink was captured on the recording and sounded like jingle bells. This inspired the use of real jingle bells when Autry recorded the song.
Autry recorded and released the song in 1947, and it became an instant classic, selling two million copies in the first release.
Here Comes Santa Claus was Autry’s first Christmas release, leading to many more, including the popular Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer.