Elvis’ Christmas special

For today’s Christmas edition of The Mystery Train Elvis Blog, I originally planned to write a short retrospective of the 1982 album Memories Of Christmas. Last week, I browsed over to the Elvis Today blog and found that Thomas had just written almost the exact same “Memories Of Christmas” post I had planned (even down to beginning with a reference to 1994’s If Every Day Was Like Christmas album). Hey Thomas, get out of my head, man!

In all seriousness, Thomas and I have very similar views and approaches when it comes to Elvis, so these things happen to us from time-to-time. There was one small element of Memories Of Christmas that he did not mention in that particular post, however, so I decided to use that as a springboard to a new idea. This time, I ran it past him first to make sure he did not already have it in the works for this week.

Thomas gave me the all clear, so today I’m going to talk about Elvis’ 1967 Christmas special.

Wait, wait, wait. Don’t fire off a correction message to me just yet.

Yes, I said 1967 Christmas special. That was not a typo.

While Elvis’ 1968 Christmas special is legendary, nearly lost to time is Elvis’ Christmas special from the previous year. His 1967 Christmas special no doubt inspired the original concept of the ELVIS (’68 Comeback) special.

Season's Greetings From Elvis flyer (1967)

Season's Greetings From Elvis flyer (1967)

On Sunday, December 3, 1967, a special called Season’s Greetings From Elvis aired on over 2,000 stations across the United States. Why is it mostly forgotten? Season’s Greetings From Elvis was a radio special.

The special contained no new numbers by Elvis, but instead featured previously released Christmas and religious music. The songs in the half-hour show included:

  • Here Comes Santa Claus (1957)
  • Blue Christmas (1957)
  • O Little Town Of Bethlehem (1957)
  • Silent Night (1957)
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1957)
  • I Believe (1957)
  • If Every Day Was Like Christmas (1966)
  • How Great Thou Art (1966)
  • His Hand In Mine (1960)
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1957)

The special’s finale, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” contained a new voice-over by Elvis: “Thank you for listening. I’d like to wish you a merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.” Oddly, this 1967 audio was later placed on top of “Silent Night” on Memories Of Christmas (and re-released on 1994’s If Every Day Was Like Christmas). However, the beginning music of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and not “Silent Night” can still be heard in the background on those releases as Elvis speaks the lines.

Exactly one year later, on December 3, 1968, the more famous Elvis Christmas special aired for the first time. Colonel Tom Parker’s original concept for the ’68 special sounded like little more than a TV version of Season’s Greetings From Elvis. The eventual show turned out much different, of course, and changed everything.

To fellow Elvis fans across the world, I’d like to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas.

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I also wrote a version of the above for Elvis Australia – since Christmas arrives there before it does the United States. Elvis Australia added a terrific video clip of Elvis celebrating Christmas at Graceland with his family, so be sure to check it out.

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Image Source
Thank you to Holger Bock at Rare Elvis for providing the original image of an RCA promotional flyer for the 1967 radio special. Please do not reproduce this image without obtaining permission of Holger at Rare Elvis.

Research Sources

  • Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1999 (page 282).
  • Season’s Greetings From Elvis, Elvis In Norway, 2010.
  • Elvis: Word For Word by Jerry Osborne, Harmony Books, New York, 2000 (page 204).
  • Elvis: The Biography by Jerry Hopkins, Plexus, London, 2007 (page 205).
  • ELVIS: His Life From A To Z by Fred Worth and Steve Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1992 (page 560).

2 thoughts on “Elvis’ Christmas special

  1. Nice and interesting post, Troy! Wouldn’t it be cool if this special (as well as the similar Easter special containing religious songs from the same year) could be released by FTD? Talk about a collector’s item. (I know the two shows have been released on a bootleg, but I’ve never heard it).

    Incidentally, I’ve never understood the decision to place “Elvis Christmas Message” right before “Silent Night” either, and why it was re-released this way again on the CD If Every Day Was Like Christmas. When I did a radio show about Elvis’ Christmas music about 10 years ago for the Swedish Radio I corrected this, splicing the message together with “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. It made for a great ending of the program: http://elvistoday.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-wish-came-true-part-two.html

    A wonderful Christmas to you too, Troy!

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    • A proper release of this forgotten Christmas special would be interesting, perhaps as part of an FTD Classic Albums release of Elvis’ Christmas Album – especially since there are reportedly no surviving outtakes from that album in Sony’s vaults.

      I always used the “special message from Elvis” version of “Silent Night” on personal Christmas compilations until I eventually realized it was supposed to be the other song. Now, I never use it.

      I might try something like you did with “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” one day, as I love fooling around with audio. A project for next Christmas, though hopefully FTD will beat me to it.

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