Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town

First performed by Eddie Cantor (1934).
First recorded by Harry Reser & His Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Perry Como (1946), The Four Seasons (US #23 1963), The Jackson 5 (1970), Bruce Springsteen (1975).

From the wiki: “‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ was written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, and first performed on Eddie Cantor’s radio variety show, The Chase and Sanborn How on NBC Radio, in November 1934. Indicative of his effect on the mass audience, Cantor had agreed to introduce the new song, that other well-known artists had rejected as being ‘silly’ and ‘childish’. The song, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, became an immediate hit; the publisher had orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music (the measure in those days of a song’s popularity) the next day; over 400,000 copies were sold by Christmas.

“The earliest-known recorded version of the song was by banjoist Harry Reser and his band. It, too, became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours. Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters recorded a popular wartime version in 1943. But, it was the Four Seasons who first charted the song on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #23 in 1963. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band recorded a live version in 1975 that was bootlegged to Rock radio stations until it saw its first release in 1982 as part of the Sesame Street compilation album In Harmony 2.”

Harry Reser & His Orchestra, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1934):

Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1943):

Perry Como, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1946):

The Four Seasons, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1963):

The Jackson 5, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1970):

Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1975):

Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” live performance (2007):

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