Ask Billboard: Send in Your Favorites of 2018! Plus, Gene Autry's Classic Carol Hits Hot 100 at Last
Posted January 4, 2019
The 2018 holiday season was extra special for Gene Autry and his classic Christmas songs because "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)" charted on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time!
Here Comes Gene Autry
Posted December 23, 2018
Gary Trust, Billboard.com
Gene Autry photographed circa 1950
Photo Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Amazingly, Autry has made his first two appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 last week and this week (on the charts dated Dec. 15 and 22), as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" dashes 36-27 on the latest list and "Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)" debuts at No. 40.
As the Hot 100 began in August 1958, the bulk of Autry's releases predate the chart. He notched 25 top 10s on early country song charts, in 1944-51, including "Santa," which reached No. 4 in 1948, and "Rudolph," a No. 1 in the 1949-50 holiday season. His holiday momentum continued in 1950-51, when his take on "Frosty the Snow Man" hit No. 4. (Autry passed at age 91 in 1998.)
"Santa" reaches the Hot 100 after Autry recorded it Aug. 28, 1947, in Hollywood, according to geneautry.com. Per the site, Autry got the idea to co-write the eventual classic "while participating in the annual Hollywood Santa Claus Lane parade [when] he heard a child on the sidewalk shout, 'Here comes Santa Claus!' "
One holiday song, though, was recorded just a bit earlier ... by five months. Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" was recorded March 19, 1947, according to Joel Whitburn's Christmas in the Charts. It hit No. 12 on the Hot 100 in January 1962.
Meanwhile, thanks to "Rudolph" and "Santa" (hopefully the other members of the sleigh don't feel slighted), Autry is one of 11 acts with multiple top 40 hits on the latest Hot 100. The group: Cardi B, Bad Bunny, Drake, Ariana Grande, Halsey, Khalid, Kodak Black, Post Malone, Travis Scott, XXXTentacion ... and Autry.