How Did Gene Autry Get the Idea for “Here Comes Santa Claus”?
The year was 1946. America was weary after years of war and ready to turn it's collective mind to something more simple. About the hottest action at the movies were Westerns with all the great cowboy stars of the time. And the hottest of all was Gene Autry.
Gene was so popular that he was asked to be the grand Marshall of the Hollywood Christmas parade. But Gene wasn't going to ride in a convertible like most stars. He insisted on riding his faithful horse Champion to lead the parade.
Most Christmas parades these days have Santa Claus as the last spot to sort of wrap up the action and usher in the Christmas season. But back in 1946 in the Hollywood parade, Santa was second in line right behind Gene Autry.
As the long line of participants began crawling down Hollywood Boulevard, Gene reared Champion up, took off his white ten gallon hat and waved to the crowd of thousands of young boys and girls, and was met with a chorus of...…"Here comes Santa Claus"! Gene turned around to look and, yes, they were more interested in Santa than the number one cowboy on the silver screen. Gene chugged through the long parade and continued to be met with the same chant for Santa.
When Gene got home that day he sat down and used the cheer the kids had been repeating all day as the title of the song that became a big Christmas favorite and has lasted for over 70 years.
The success of "Here Comes Santa Claus" opened another door of opportunity for the singing cowboy.--children's songs about holidays. Remember "Peter Cottontail" , "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman"? Yes Gene even wrote a Thanksgiving tune called, "Guffy the Goofy Gobbler" which sold much less than his other songs. I do not remember that one but I do remember that "Here Comes Santa Claus" was the very first song I ever heard. I was three.