Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks. Marks had already written other Christmas hits such as Holly Jolly Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. An instrumental version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree appears on the TV special, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which featured Marks
The hope was the song would be an encore to follow up to the hit of Jingle Bell Rock. Marks wrote the song for the 1958 teen audience based on current trends.
A 13-year-old Brenda Lee recorded Rockin‘ Around the Christmas Tree in 1958. Lee recalled the following in a 2006 interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Owen had the studio all freezing cold with the air conditioning, and he had a Christmas tree all set up to kind of get in the mood just a little bit. We had a lot of fun.”
The saxophone solo on Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree was played by famed saxophonist Boots Randolph.
The song flopped on its first two releases. However, two years later as Brenda Lee gained popularity the song was brought back out and became a bona-fide hit.
In 2014, NPR asked Brenda Lee what the correct direction was to rock around the Christmas tree. Her response: South.
Brenda Lee’s version is ranked #4 among the digital downloads of any Christmas single. While Lee has recorded numerous other songs, she is still best known for Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.
The song has also been covered by Alabama, Amy Grant, Billy Haley & His Comets, LeAnn Rimes, Chicago, and Alvin and the Chipmunks.
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