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65 Years Later, Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ Soars to No. 1

It’s a holiday gift — 65 years in the making!

On Monday, Brenda Lee‘s holiday classic “Rockin’ Around the Christmas” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song’s distinction arrives a whopping 65 years after it was first released when she was just 13 years old, breaking the record for longest climb to No. 1.

With this distinction, Lee also surpassed the 25-year gap between Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” release in 1994 and its ascent to the top in 2019.

Billboard shared a video of Lee’s reaction to the news. “No! Me?” Lee said as she wiped away tears and hugged UMG Nashville CEO Cindy Mabe. “That’s fabulous. Wow… All these years. Mr. Marks would be proud.” (She refers to the late Johnny Marks, who wrote the 1958 song.)

Lee described the news as “amazing” in a press release, sharing her excitement and thanking UMG for pushing for the track to reach the milestone. Lee even recorded a music video for the beloved classic, featuring stars like Tanya Tucker and Trisha Yearwood, along with a new holiday EP.

“I cannot believe that ‘Rockin’’ has hit No. 1 65 years after it was released, this is just so special!” she said. “Thank you to the team at UMG/UMe who worked so hard to celebrate the song’s anniversary this year. But most importantly, thank you to the fans who keep listening.”

“The song came out when I was a young teenager and now to know that it has resonated with multiple generations and continues to resonate — it is one of the best gifts I have ever received. Keep on Rockin’ and Merry Christmas!” she added.

This is Lee’s first No. 1 hit since 1960 when she reached the milestone thanks to “I Want to Be Wanted” and “I’m Sorry.” In that decade, Lee held the highest number of entries on the Hot 100 than any other female artist with a total of 46, according to Billboard.


“When we recorded ‘Rockin,’ I knew it was magical,” Lee told Rolling Stone for a 2018 profile.

Several other Christmas carols ended up in the Hot 100’s Top 10 this week. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” landed at No. 2, Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock” came in No. 4, Wham!’s “Last Christmas” landed at No. 5, Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas” jumped to No. 6, and Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” made it’s way into No. 10.

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