It is one of the iconic songs of the end of the year celebrations. One that’s been covered countless times by artists in almost every genre imaginable, and one that you’ve probably heard so many times you could probably sing every word in your sleep. What you might not know is that the man who made him famous was born here in Indiana.
Bloomington, Indiana Man was the first to record “Jingle Bell Rock”
The year was 1957 and a native of Bloomington, Indiana, Bobby Helms was living in Nashville, Tennessee, making a name for himself as a country music singer. He released two singles early in the year, “Fraulein” and “My Special Angel”, both of which reached number one on the country chart, the latter even jumping to the Billboard Pop Music charts where it reached number seven. points.
But, in the fall of that year, he recorded the song that would cement him as a staple of Christmas music for decades to come.
“Jingle Bell Rock” was an instant hit for Helms. According to a 2012 article by David Lindquist of the Indianapolis Star, the song climbed the Billboard Top 40 chart where it peaked at number six.
A sled full of controversy
The song was written by songwriters Joe Beal and Jim Boothe, but as John G. O’Leary wrote in a 2013 article for Business Lessons from Rock, Helms and the studio guitarist he worked with, Hank Garland didn’t like it. So they sat down, changed the words, added a bridge and some new verses, creating a completely new song, in their opinion. Unfortunately, they were unable to provide enough evidence to support this claim and never received any royalties for writing the song. However, Helms received performance royalties because he was the one who sang it.
Although neither is credited as the song’s author, Helms and Garland claimed to be until their deaths in 1997 and 2004, respectively.
Jingle Bell Rock Covers
In the 65 years since its release, “Jingle Bell Rock” has been covered by a number of musicians from a wide variety of genres, including Country where George Strait and Blake Shelton (dueting with Miranda Lambert, then wife) put their own spin on the holiday classic.
Legendary pop-rock duo, Hall & Oates released their version in 1983.
The song has even been picked up by the heavy metal community, with New Hampshire metal band Our Last Night releasing their own version in 2021, which begins by sticking close to the original before turning into a chorus of heavy guitar riffs, thunderous drums and mixes. of melodic singing with some raw screams added, because why not?
The song was even remixed into a banger for the club scene.
Whichever version you prefer, they might never have existed without the Hoosier native who first recorded it.
[Sources: Wikipedia / Indianapolis Star / Business Lessons From Rock]
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