Elvis' Christmas: Bestselling Christmas Album of All Time

Elvis' Christmas Album
Studio album: Elvis Presley
Released: October 15, 1957
Genre: Christmas, pop, 
gospel, rock & roll

Elvis' Christmas Album is the best selling Christmas LP of all-time. Rolling Stones ranks it number 2 on their list of The 25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the record and it's re-issues sold over 17 million copies in the US. Worldwide, it's total sales are more 20 million. Three tracks were released as singles: "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)," "Blue Christmas," and "Santa Claus Is Back in Town."

Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) (1957)

Elvis' original 1957 LP contained six popular Christmas songs, two traditional Christmas carols and four gospel songs. The album was divided into the secular Christmas songs on side one and the traditional Christmas carols and gospel numbers on side two. Two of the spirituals were "Peace in the Valley" and "Take My Hand, Precious Lord." "White Christmas" and "Silent Night" were the traditional carols.

Presley commissioned two new songs for the recording. One was "Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me)."  Aaron Schroeder and Claude Demetrius wrote it and the Jordanaires supplied the backing vocals. Released in the US as a 45rpm Extended Play (EP) - with "Santa Claus is Back in Town", "Blue Christmas", and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" - it reached number 1 on Billboard's EP chart. Paired with "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" in the UK and released concurrent with the LP, it reached number 7 their Singles Chart.

Blue Christmas (1964)

"Blue Christmas" was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948. The following year the country and western artist,  Ernest Tubbreleased his cover of the song. Tubb's version spent the first week of January 1950 at number 1 on Billboard magazine's Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart. 

Elvis' version wasn't released as a single until 1964. In the US it was backed with "Wooden Heart" from the soundtrack for G.I. Blues. From 1965 and on, it was backed with "Santa Claus Is Back In Town." It was also issued in the UK in 1964, with Elvis' version of "White Christmas" on the B-side.

In 2008, Martina McBride was digitally inserted into footage from Elvis performing this tune at his 1968 Christmas special. McBride's version was part of the Christmas Duets album. It featured several female singers - including Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, and Olivia Newton-John - performing Christmas songs along with recordings of Elvis.

Santa Claus Is Back in Town (1965)

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" just after they finished working with him on songs for his film Jailhouse Rock. They got a call about desperately needing one more song for Elvis' Christmas album.  According to the book Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, when the song-writing team showed up at the studio Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker scowled, "You got the song?" Leiber and Stoller explained they just got the call and rushed right over. Parker sneered, "Write it right now!" 

Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography

The songwriters went into the utility closet. Fifteen minutes later they presented him this song.  Parker barked, "What took you so long?," to which they responded "Writer's block." Parker didn't crack a smile.  Backed with "Blue Christmas," it was released as a 45 single in 1965 in the US. It reached number 4 on the Billboard Christmas Singles chart. This song was also part of his 1968 Christmas special.


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