As musical genres go, Christmas albums have got to be one of the most diverse. At one end of the spectrum there are the Ray Conniff Singers belting out spunky and earnest versions of "Frosty the Snowman" and "White Christmas" on their 1959 classic, "Christmas with Conniff." At the other end is Pearl Jam, whose mournful 1998 Christmas release of Wayne Cochran’s "Last Kiss" was an unexpected hit for the Seattle-based grunge band.

One of the earliest Christmas albums to break into the popular mainstream was Gene Autry’s "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which was released by Columbia as both a 78 and 33 1/3 RPM single in 1949. A 45 version came out in 1950, and that disc remains one of the best-selling Christmas records of all time. Throughout the early 1950s, The Singing Cowboy, as Autry was known, continued to release Christmas records on Columbia, including a 45 in 1952 with Rosemary Clooney ("The Night Before Christmas Song," backed by "Look Out The Window"), who had quite a run of her own Christmas records ("Suzy Snowflake" was Clooney’s 1951 hit).

Harry Belafonte, recording for RCA Victor, was another singer to try his pipes at Christmas records in the 1950s. A 45 featuring "Mary’s Boy Child" was released in 1956, while an entire album of Christmas music called "To Wish You a Merry Christmas" came out in 1958—of the two versions of this album, the stereo copy is more collectible than the mono. Nat King Cole released a string of 45s on Capitol from 1950 to 1956, including “Mrs. Santa Claus” and “My Two Front Teeth (All I Want for Christmas).”

Another landmark Christmas song from the 1950s was "Run Rudolph Run," a rockin’ 45 on Chess Records by Chuck Berry. And one of the most infamous Christmas tunes of the decade was Eartha Kitt’s sultry 1953 classic for RCA, "Santa Baby" (the picture sleeve features a very leggy Kitt being carried in the arms of a somewhat lecherous Santa Claus).

But the undisputed kings of Christmas music from the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley. Collectible Crosby records from these years include the pair of 10-inch albums he recorded for Decca in 1949, "Merry Christmas" and "Christmas Greetings," both of which were reissued as sets of four 7-inch EPs in 1950. Crosby recorded Christmas records with the Andrews Sisters ("Poppa Santa Claus," 1950), Carol Richards ("Silver Bells," 1950), and Danny Kaye ("White Christmas," 1954). One of the most collectible Crosby Christmas albums of the decade was "A Crosby Christmas," from 1950.

Sinatra’s first Christmas record came out in 1948. Titled "Christmas Songs by Sinatra," the first release of this 10-inch Columbia album is the most valuable—look for a gingerbread man on the cover. A subsequent reissue the following year is also prized—its cover is made of green vinylite. As with Crosby’s 1949 10-inch albums for Decca, Sinatra’s 10-incher was reissued in 1950 as a set of four 7-inch EPs. Later in the decade, in 1957, Sinatra recorded two more 7-inch EPs for Columbia, "Christmas Dreaming Vol. 1" and "Christmas Dreaming Vol. 2," as well as a full-length album for Capitol called "A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra" (the 1957 version with the gray label on the disc is considered more valuable than the 1958 copy whose label has a black colorband).

As for Elvis, his 1957 "Elvis’ Christmas Album" remains the best-selling Christmas album ever recorded, with more than 9-million copies sold. It is also one of the most collectib...

In 1961, the Lennon Sisters of Lawrence Welk TV fame had a hit with "Christmas with the Lennon Sisters," which included "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." A more improbable TV crossover was "Christmas on the Ponderosa," a 1964 RCA album recorded by the stars of "Bonanza," Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Dan Blocker (he played "Hoss"). The best known, and easily one of the most beloved, TV-generated Christmas records was by Vince Guaraldi, who, in 1965, wrote and recorded "Christmas Time Is Here" and other songs for "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Throughout the 1960s, The Beatles sent Christmas flexi-discs to members of their fan clubs in the U.K. and U.S. The first of these, "The Beatles Christmas Record," was recorded in 1963 and sent to U.K. fans that year—the same recording would be sent to U.S. fans in 1964. The discs ran from four to seven minutes, and the earliest ones are, of course, most collectible. Interestingly, though, so is the compilation LP of all seven Beatles Christmas recordings, which was released in 1970 on the band’s Apple label.

Other rock bands were quick to follow The Beatles’ lead. The Beach Boys issued a Christmas album in 1964. Even Jimi Hendrix went into the studio to cut a Christmas record, but his work would not be released until 1974, four years after his death, when Reprise released a pair of 45s, one of which contained a medley that included "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night" on both sides.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Papa Teds Place

Papa Teds Place

The late Theodore H. Althof, Jr's beautiful collection of vintage dimestore cardboard Christmas 'putz' village hous… [read review or visit site]

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]

317X

317X

Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

This simple site showcases over 500 artistic Gablonz glass bead antique and vintage Christmas tree ornaments, made … [read review or visit site]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

This site showcases over 1000 old Soviet Christmas and New Years cards from 1950 to 1990. Browse through page after… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

"elvis Christmas Album" Loc-1035 Original 1957 Only Pressing Gatefold Vg/vg-Beatles 1964 Christmas Flexi And SleeveBeatles -1969 Christmas Record 7" Flexi Disc Beatles Fan Club - Very Rare! Mint!Frank Zappa: The Famous Xmas Flower Hour Double Lp W/poster - Munich 1980Elvis Presley 33 Record Loc-1035 Elvis' Christmas Album With Photo BookThe Beatles - 1963 Fan Club Christmas 7" Single Rare Flexi Disc NmGeorge Strait~6 Lp Lot ~ Greatest Hits/merry Christmas To You/something Special1985 Great Sounds Radio Show 4 Hr/4 Lp (christmas Special)Rare Promo Elvis Presley "if Everyday Was Like Christmas" 47-8950Beatles= John Lennon Happy Xmas 7 Inch Vinyl 45 & Picture Sleeve41 45rpm Christmas RecordsBing Crosby: Merry Christmas, Rare 1940s 10" 78 Rpm Record AlbumTim Burton The Nightmare Before Christmas Double Lp Vinyl Record Album Brand New Elvis Presley "christmas Album" Uk. "red-dot" Original 1964Elvis Presley-christmas Album-rare S Africa Lp-rca 31 118Elvis Presley Elvis' Christmas Album (rca Victor Lp Vinyl 50th Anniversary)Ramones "i Wanna Live" /"merry Christmas..." 7"(beggars Banquet Beg #201)uk 1987Kurtis Blow Christmas Rappin Hip Hop 12" Acetate Lp Elvis Presley Elvis' Christmas Album Japan Obi "elvis Christmas Album" Lpm-1951 Long Play Rare Army Back Cover 1958 M-/m-Great Songs Of Christmas 2lp Limited Goodyear Red/green Wax Barbra Mahalia BingJudy Garland: Rare Have Yourself Christmas+trolley Song 2 Lot Decca 78Kenny Burrell "have Yourself A Soulful Little Christmas" Jazz Lp Cadet 779Kenny Burrell Have Yourself A Soulful Little Christmas Cadet Lp Vg++ 1945 Bing Crosby Merry Christmas 78 Rpm 4-record Set Decca Album 550Elvis Presley Elvis' Christmas Album Elvis' 50th Anniversary Near Mint/near MintChuck Berry R&b Xmas 45 (chess 1714) Run Rudolph Run /merry Christmas Baby Vg+The Time-life Treasury Of Christmas 3 - 12" Vinyl Record Lps From 1986Lenny The Lion – I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas 1959 7” Parlophone R 4609Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (david Bowie) - Soundtrack - Uk Lp Press V2276 Ex+Elvis Presley "christmas Songs" 45 Ep Victor Epa-4108Fred Waring And The Pennsylvanians: Twas The Night Before Christmas, 78rpm BoxedThe Beatles - 1964 Fan Club Christmas 7" Single Rare Flexi Disc NmElvis Presley - Elvis' Christmas Album (lpm-1951) - Rare "mono" Copy From 1963Howdy Doody's Christmas Party, Rca Victor Wy 442, Two 45 Rpm RecordsElvis Presley 33 Record Lsp-4579 The Wonderful World Of Christmas With PhotoSpike Jones - Rca Ep - "christmas Fun" - (little Nipper Series) - Circa 1950!45 Rpm - Julie Andrews - U.s.a. Music Group - The Sound Of ChristmasThe Kinks Father Christmas/prince Of The Punks Uk 1st Press Arista Ex+ VinylThe Who - See Me, Feel Me / Christmas / Overture / Im Free Rare 7" Vinyl SingleYulesville Promo Only Red Vinyl Christmas Lp W/madonna Prince Rem EtcHis Ambassadors. Christmas Is... Lp. Tmc 7048. White Vinyl. Nm.Lot Of 10 Christmas Lps. Rare And Vintage.10" ~ 78 Rpm ~ Bing Crosby ~ White Christmas B/w Let's Start The New Year RightBeach Boys 5 Lp Lot Christmas Album Great Concert Surfer Girl Best Of Elvis Presley 5 Uk Singles White Christmas /such A Night/tell Me Why/one Night ECarpenters - 1978 " Christmas Portrait" And "close To You"Bruce Springsteen - War/merry Christmas Baby. 1986 Japan 7" 45. 07sp1000. Nm+The Wedding Present ‎– No Christmas / Step Into Christmas 7" Single Red VinylBeatles Official Fan Club Third Christmas Record - Flexi Disc SingleStevie Wonder Someday At Christmas Motown Vil-6136 Japan Obi Vinyl Lp3 Albums Walt Disney"s, Its A Small World, Christmas Favourites And 50 PlaytimePhil Spector - Christmas Mix 7" Ronettes Darlene Love Uk P/s Iron Maiden Run To The Hills Live With Christmas Card 7" Single Rare NwobhmAndy Williams Christmas De Luxe Xs10c Lp Gg8010The Cameos "merry Christmas" Cameo 123