Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (song)

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"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
Single by Gene Autry
from the album Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
B-side "If It Doesn't Snow on Christmas"
"Here Comes Santa"
"Here Comes Santa Claus"
Released September 1, 1949[1]
Format 7", 10"
Recorded June 27, 1949[1]
Genre Christmas
Length 3:10
Label Columbia 38610
Columbia MJV-56
Columbia 4-38610
Columbia 33165
Challenge 1010
Challenge 59030

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a song written by Johnny Marks based on the 1939 story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company.


In 1939 Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May, created the character Rudolph as an assignment for Montgomery Ward, and Marks decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into a song. Marks (1909–1985) was a radio producer who also wrote several other popular Christmas songs.[2]

The song had an added introduction, stating the names of the eight reindeer which went:

"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"

The song was sung commercially by crooner Harry Brannon on New York City radio in early November 1949,[citation needed] before Gene Autry's recording hit No. 1 in the U.S. charts the week of Christmas 1949. Autry's version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only chart-topping hit to fall completely off the chart after reaching No. 1. The official date of its No. 1 status was for the week ending January 7, 1950, making it the first No. 1 song of the 1950s.[3]

The song was also performed on the December 6, 1949, Fibber McGee and Molly radio broadcast by Teeny (Marion Jordan's little girl character) and The Kingsmen vocal group. The lyrics varied greatly from the Autry version.[citation needed]

Autry's recording sold 1.75 million copies its first Christmas season, eventually selling a total of 12.5 million. Cover versions included, sales exceed 150 million copies, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".[4][5]

Current owner of copyrights is Kobalt Music Group

Other notable recordings[edit]

Other Versions[edit]

Burl Ives Version (1964)[edit]

Burl Ives recorded the song for the soundtrack of the holiday TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The soundtrack album containing Ives' version reached No. 142 on the Billboard 200 albums sales chart.[13] He would re-record the song the following year for his holiday album Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.

Babyface Version (1998)[edit]

Babyface recorded the song for his holiday album, Christmas with Babyface.

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
Single by Babyface
from the album Christmas with Babyface
Recorded 1997
Genre R&B, Christmas
Length 4:03
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
Single by Burl Ives
from the album Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Kidz Bop Kids Version (2002)[edit]

Kidz Bop Kids recorded the song in 2002 for the album Kidz Bop Christmas.

"Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer"
Single by The Kidz Bop Kids
from the album Kidz Bop Christmas (2002 & 2009) and The Coolest Kidz Bop Christmas Ever (2007)
Recorded 2001-2002

3rd Generation Mix (2011)[edit]

A 3rd Generation Mix was released in 2011.

Destiny's Child Version (2004)[edit]

Destiny's Child included the song on a reissue of their 2001 holiday album, 8 Days of Christmas.

"Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer"
Single by Destiny's Child
from the album 8 Days of Christmas
Recorded 2004
Genre R&B
Destiny's Child singles chronology


Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (2004) Girl


"Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer [3rd Generation Mix]"
Single by The Kidz Bop Kids
from the album Kidz Bop Christmas (2011 & 2012)
Recorded 2010-2011

DMX Version (2012)[edit]

Rapper DMX performed an a cappella version of the song with his own ad-libs.

"Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer"
Single by DMX
Released December 2012
Genre Hip-Hop, A cappella
DMX chronology
Head Up (2012) Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (2012)

In popular culture[edit]

The lyric "All of the other reindeer" can be misheard in dialects with the cot–caught merger as the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer", and has given rise to another character featured in her own Christmas television special, Olive, the Other Reindeer. (She mentions Rudolph by name to one of the reindeer, and the reindeer tells her that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer doesn't exist; it's all an urban legend.)

The song in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono, has led to Rudolph's general acceptance in the mythology as the lead reindeer of Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa.

On the December 23, 2011, edition of WWE SmackDown, Booker T sang a cappella the parody of the song, "Cody the Red-Nosed Reindeer", with a reference to Cody Rhodes, in order to cost Rhodes the match against Zack Ryder.

The series of light novels Sword Art Online has a chapter named "The Red-Nosed Reindeer" after the song, due to a character of the series singing the song by the end of the chapter.[17]


  • ASCAP Work ID: 480058686 (ISWC: T0701273995)
  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Kim, Wook (December 17, 2012). "Yule Laugh, Yule Cry: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Beloved Holiday Songs". Time. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ Casey Kasem American Top 40 April 8, 1979
  4. ^ Badger, Reid; Salem, James (December 22, 1996). "America's Holiday Sound– Distinctive artists". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. (August 15, 1998). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 1. Gale. p. 550. Retrieved October 17, 2013. , while Autry's version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" sold more than 12.5 million copies 
  6. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920–2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 31. ISBN 0-89820-161-6. 
  8. ^ Whitburn p. 43
  9. ^ Whitburn p. 36
  10. ^ Whitburn p. 25
  11. ^ Whitburn p. 49
  12. ^ Whitburn p. 18
  13. ^ a b "'Burl Ives' Billboard 200". 
  14. ^ Whitburn p. 61
  15. ^ Whitburn p. 42
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Sword Art Online Volume 2, Chapter 4.". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Mule Train" by Frankie Laine
U.S. Billboard Best Sellers in Stores number-one single
January 7, 1950 (Gene Autry)
Succeeded by
"I Can Dream, Can't I" by The Andrews Sisters