ASCAP Renews Agreement With Estate Of Songwriter Johnny Marks

Johnny Marks in the 1950s. Photo: ASCAP

Johnny Marks in the 1950s. Photo: ASCAP

ASCAP 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 No. 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 holiday canon, 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.


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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