Dating back to 1934, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was first sung on Eddie Cantor’s radio show. The song became a hit and the demand for sheet music and recordings skyrocketed.
The earliest recording also dates back to 1934, when Harry Reser recorded it for Decca. The following year, Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra made a recording of the song.
The song became a popular hit in the decades to come, with versions by Perry Como, Gene Autry, The Jackson 5 and the Four Seasons. Rankin-Bass also created a stop-motion animation special of the same title with Fred Astaire narrating the story as a North Pole delivery man. One Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You, The Crystals made a dramatic melodic change to the chorus. It also inspired Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s beloved version. The Boss’ version was recorded live in 1975 and released in 1982 as part of a Sesame Street compilation called In Harmony 2. Three years later, it was released as a B-side to the “My Hometown” single. It still remains a heavily requested song by the audience during tours in that run through November and December.