Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree: Johnny Marks Songwriting Catalog Renews With ASCAP

December 21, 2016

Hall of Fame songwriter composed holiday classics including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”

NEW YORK, December 21, 2016 -- ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the world leader in performing rights and advocacy for music creators, today announced that it has renewed its agreement with the estate of songwriter Johnny Marks, the writer of classic holiday songs including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Silver and Gold” and ”I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” ASCAP will continue to license public performances of his extensive songwriting catalog throughout the world.

“It simply wouldn’t be the holidays without the music of Johnny Marks,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams. “His enduring songs have provided a timeless soundtrack for holiday sing-alongs and family gatherings for over 75 years, and ASCAP is proud to keep the tradition going.”

“My father was an ASCAP member from the beginning of his career,” said Johnny Marks’ son, Michael, who now runs St. Nicholas Music, the publishing company founded by his father.  “It has been a long and rewarding relationship, and I look forward to continuing to work with our friends at ASCAP in the years to come.”

Marks was born in Mt. Vernon, New York on November 10, 1909. Though he was active as a songwriter since 1935, Marks earned his first major hit when Gene Autry’s recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became the first #1 song of the 1950s, and sold 1.75 million copies in its first year. His many awards include an induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the inaugural award from the International Society of Santa Claus in 1973, in tribute to his contributions to the spirit of Christmas.

Aside from his beloved holiday canon, three of which are among ASCAP’s Top 30 Holiday Songs of the Year, Marks composed scores for commercials and TV specials which have been viewed by over a billion people, including the 1964 Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer program with Burl Ives (among the longest-running specials in TV history). He found success with non-holiday music too, including the country hit “Everything I've Always Wanted” recorded by Porter Wagoner; “She’ll Always Remember,” introduced by Kate Smith; “Anyone Can Move a Mountain,” recorded by Kate Smith and Harry Simeone, “Address Unknown” with the Ink Spots and “Who Calls” with Bing Crosby.

From 1940 until his death in 1985, Marks was an active member of ASCAP and served on its Board of Directors from 1957 through 1961. He founded his own St. Nicholas Music in 1949 to publish his songwriting catalog, and it is still active today. 

Read more thoughts from Paul Williams on ASCAP's Top Holiday Songs in the Huffington Post.


The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 600,000 members representing more than 10 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Learn more and stay in touch at, on Twitter @ASCAP and on Facebook.

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Cathy Halgas Nevins, ASCAP

cnevins (at)