The Song, “White Christmas”
This year, marks the 77th anniversary of the famous Christmas holiday classic movie, “Holiday Inn,” which starred the American singer and actor, Bing Crosby with actress, Marjorie Reynolds as his sweetheart. Not only is this film a traditional favorite to watch during the Christmas holiday season on TV, but it’s also famous for introducing the iconic Christmas holiday song by Irving Berlin, “White Christmas.”
Originally, Irving Berlin created this melancholy song in 1941, for a musical that would later become the movie Holiday Inn… and most particularly for Bing Crosby to sing during the 1942 Christmas classic film.
Weirdly enough, Irving Berlin didn’t celebrate Christmas in general as he was Jewish, but his song “White Christmas” went down in history as being the world’s best-selling single record, with an estimated 50 million copies sold (not including other musicians versions of the song). Mr. Berlin won an Academy award for best song, and actually presented the Oscar to himself, at the 15th Academy Award ceremony, which was held at the Ambassador Hotel’s-Cocoanut Grove Nightclub in March, 1943.
Elvis Presley Releases His First Rockin’ Christmas Album
Moving on…In October of 1957, the king of rock and rock, Elvis Presley, had released his third album, and his first Christmas-themed LP record. This album was titled, “Elvis’ Christmas Album” and it became the best-selling Christmas album of all-time. Not only did 1957 mean a blockbuster Billboard hit and Elvis’s first Diamond Award-winning, certified- recorded album; it was also Elvis’s first Christmas in his new home, “Graceland.”
Super great…right? Not so much, as this Christmas was filled with mixed emotions for Elvis; although he was at home with his beloved mother and father, all wasn’t perfect. Just five days prior to Christmas Day, Elvis had received his draft notice-which meant it would be his last Christmas spent with his beloved mother, Gladys Presley. His mother died the following year, on August 14th, 1958.
Fact or Fiction: Did Irving Berlin Dislike Elvis Presley’s Version of his Treasured “White Christmas” song?
Oh, my “achy-breaky” heart…It’s said that Irving Berlin wasn’t a fan of Elvis Presley’s music, and Elvis’s musical version of Berlin’s “White Christmas” song.
When Elvis Presley decided to add the song “White Christmas” to his first Christmas album…let’s just say, that Irving Berlin wasn’t “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree” with delight. In fact, the rumor is that Irving Berlin had tried to launch a campaign with his staff in New York, to contact radio stations across America and Canada to demand Elvis’s version of “White Christmas” song be banned from radio play.
True or false, no one will ever know for sure. Maybe Berlin wasn’t a fan of rock-n-roll music in general. He may have wanted to connect with as many radio stations as possible in protest, but was advised against it, thinking it would bring unwanted attention to the “White Christmas” recording.
Elvis’s 1957, First Christmas Album and CASH!
Well, maybe Irving Berlin wasn’t an Elvis Presley fan, but this sure didn’t hurt Presley’s popularity. According to RIAA statistics, Elvis Presley’s Christmas Album sold over 13 million units; it held the #1 spot in record sales in December of 1957 for three weeks until Bing Crosby’s holiday classic “Merry Christmas” coveted that position, and Elvis Presley became the biggest selling solo-artist of all time.
Because so many Elvis’ Christmas albums were issued, is it seriously possible for this LP to be worth over $10,000 today? You bet, but finding these treasured LP’s are few and far between…Nevertheless, they’re just waiting to be discovered, and its my job to disclose important tips on how to find and identify these rock ‘n’ roll gems.
So, let’s talk about those unbelievable few and- quite valuable-limited editions of the 1957, Elvis Presley record/LP, “Elvis’ Christmas Album.”
Per the The Official Price Guide to Elvis Presley Records and Memorabilia by Jerry Osborne, the Elvis’ Christmas Album- that featured a red vinyl record- with the catalog number-LOC-1035, and issued in November, 1957-is valued between $10,000 and $20,000 today.
With research I’ve done on this album/LP…it seems only a few particular copies were created by an engineer who worked at the RCA Victor plant in 1957- where the album was being made. He decided to press a few experimental copies using red vinyl, which was normally used for classical albums, and keep them for himself. These few red vinyl pressed albums are considered the ‘creme de la creme’ by Elvis Presley enthusiasts and your chances of finding one are slim.
Keep in mind, the 1957 black vinyl version of the Elvis’ Christmas Album is also quite valuable, selling for hundreds of dollars-if its found still sealed in mint condition, or if the album was manufactured in Japan (LS-5038).
Unfortunately, the majority of these albums were mass-produced and used, thus most are valued at $5 or less.
Key Tip: The 1957 Elvis’ Presley Christmas album has been reissued and re-released in numerous formats since its first release date. Always research in detail the information found on the cover, label and vinyl pressed disc.
Example-In 2016, a limited edition of the original Elvis’ Christmas Album was reissued with a 180g red vinyl pressed album, and its unquestionably similar to the original LP. The album was mastered by Joe Reagoso and manufactured at RTI (Record Technology Inc). If this LP is found, still factory sealed, the value is around $20…not $10,000. (Oops, I just foiled someone’s excitement.)
Here are some helpful tips to help you identify those few, rare experimental albums and other collectible original issues of the 1957 Elvis’ Christmas Album.
The 1957 Experimental-Red Vinyl disc, RCA Victor- black label-Elvis’ Presley Christmas album
- The original record was published with the RCA Victor catalogue number-LOC-1035, and the vinyl pressing was released in the USA.
- The LP measures 12″ across and has the black RCA Victor record label
- It features a deluxe gatefold (booklet-like), red album cover with a bound cloth spine.
- Original 1957 copies of this album were done in “monophone” (MONO) sound reproduction.
- Inside the gatefold cover, a 12-page color promotional booklet featuring promotional photos from Elvis’s third movie, “Jailhouse Rock was added.”
- The LP was created in red vinyl (not green or black) and it has a black RCA Victor label with the words ‘Long Play’ which will found along the bottom of the label.
- Look for clear tape over a red spine with gold print on it.
The black vinyl disc original 1957 Elvis’ Christmas LP’s, will feature a shaped-gift giving- gold foil price tag sticker attached to the covers shrink wrap. It reads, “TO______________, FROM____________, ELVIS SINGS,” followed by a list of the track songs. Additionally, record labels for the 1957 pressing, had black with silver-only wording; the famous RCA Victor “His Master’s Voice” dog logo at the top, and “LONG 33 1/3 PLAY, at the bottom. These LP’s can sell for several hundred dollars.
What to look for When Searching for Collectible Records
Its always important to remember-NOT ALL Elvis Presley albums are worth thousands of dollars; it will depend on several factors: Where was the vinyl recorded and manufactured; what’s the condition of the vinyl record discs and the album cover; and it’s catalog information. Additionally, the type of cover or sleeve it has; and if it’s a 1st pressing, or promo?
It’ll take some research before it’s decided whether you’ve discovered a record that is a highly sought-after collectible, or a mass-produced- recording.
I leave you with this quote from Elvis Presley-“It’s not how much you have that makes people look up to you, it’s who you are.”
I’m sending everyone best wishes for happy holidays and a super New Year!