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When Elvis Butchered White Christmas

White Christmas remains, more nearly 75 years since it was written, the most popular Christmas single of all time. Bing Crosby immortalized it with two recordings and a film.

And an entire generation embraced it as not only a Christmas song but also an anthem of home and family.

White Christmas has been recorded by literally hundreds of artists — many to critical acclaim, such as Tony Bennett and Dean Martin. Others have failed to do justice to the song. But there stands one who is accused of making a mockery of the song: Elvis Presley.

Presley recorded White Christmas for his 1957 Christmas album, which has in our time become a cherished classic. But back in the day, many questioned Elvis’ artistry:

Song writer Irving Berlin was especially offended. He considered it “a profane parody of a cherished yuletide standard” and Berlin ordered his staff in New York to telephone radio stations around the country demanding the song be discontinued from airplay. And many radio stations complied with the request with most in Canada refusing even to give it a chance.

But not all the controversy was genuine.

Portland, Oregon radio station KEX launched a publicity stunt when disc jockey Al Priddy played the song on a Sunday and was fired, on the air, a manufactured event that made national headlines that perpetuated the ongoing publicity of Elvis’ Christmas album. Priddy was brought back two weeks later as the stationed claimed it was responding to overwhelming listener support for Priddy and Elvis Presley.

Like it, love it — or not — Elvis’ White Christmas will never go away.

Father of 7, Grandfather of 7, husband of 1. Freelance writer, Major League baseball geek, aspiring Family Historian.

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