When Elvis Presley’s “White Christmas” Was Banned

When Elvis Presley’s “White Christmas” Was Banned

CIRCA 1965: Rock and roll singer Elvis Presley poses with Colonel Tom Parker (dressed as Santa Claus)in this Christmas card circa 1965. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Photo by Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine The King’s innocent version of the holiday classic White Christmas could cause such a controversy. But a few things have progressed in the past seven decades.

When RCA released Elvis’ Christmas Album in 1957, it included a more rock-fueled recording of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. At the time, the more conservative folks of society were outraged by Presley’s “rebellious” nature primarily because of the way he shook his hips. The rock ‘n’ roll music “Elvis The Pelvis” was creating was said to be leading to youth delinquency and the evil music was derived from the devil.

Berlin was very upset by Presley’s upbeat recording of his song, not just because he wasn’t a fan of Elvis, but because of the song’s secret meaning. It turns out the song was Berlin’s somber response to the death of his 3-week-old son, Irving Berlin Jr., who passed away on Christmas Day in 1928.

Berlin wasn’t the only one troubled by Presley’s White Christmas. In December 1957, Portland, Oregon radio station KEX banned the song because it “desecrates the Spirit of Christmas and transgresses the composer’s intent.” However, the ban didn’t faze the station’s DJ Al Priddy who played the controversial song anyways and ended up getting fired for it. Listeners weren’t happy about the station’s decision, so letters poured in to KEX asking for Priddy to come back. It only took two weeks for Priddy to get back on air.

Fortunately, Presley’s White Christmas is approved for KLOS and Marci Wiser remains safe for playing it on Marici’s Boot Camp yesterday.

Taken a listen to the once-controversial White Christmas by Elvis Presley here:


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