Monday, June 17, 2024

Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” Hits Billboard Number 1, But She Gets Zilch from Radio Play


If you believe in Santa Claus, you believe in the Billboard pop charts. It can’t hurt, right?

So Billboard as anointed Brenda Lee’s 1960 hit, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” as its number 1 song this week. Congrats, Brenda Lee!

Of course, this makes no sense. On iTunes, “Rockin'” is number 6 right now, one notch below Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” Last week, “Rockin” was number 8 on Billboard, which means it suddenly vaulted to number 1 out of nowhere.

But again, no one gets hurt. And it’s a nice holiday treat for Brenda, who didn’t write “Rock” and gets no royalties from the radio play. Those sheckels go to the late, legendary Johnny Marks’s estate. So when you hear “Rockin'” on the radio and in supermarkets, it’s Marks being paid, not Brenda Lee.

Brenda Lee is not as old as you think. At 78, she’s in the realm of the Beatles and Stones, a tad younger actually. She had a bunch of hits starting around age 14, with “Rockin” coming at age 16. (She recorded “Rockin” when she was 13.) Her run on the charts ended around 1966. She still made records, but was pretty much done on the top 40.

Because she gets no publishing royalties, Brenda has made her money from concerts, shows, and tours. She’s got a Tik Tok account with 84,000 followers and hopefully she’s making some money from that.

Merry Xmas, Brenda!

@brendaleeofficial My message to you this holiday season. 💌 Thank YOU for all your support this time of year and always. -Brenda #ARockinChristmas #BrendaLee ♬ Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News