EARLIER THIS WEEK, Brenda Lee became the oldest person to earn a new No. 1 hit as “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart 65 years after its original release. The singer celebrated the accolade with a performance on NBC’s Christmas at the Opry special, where she performed the holiday song in style.
Taking the stage in a red gown, Lee showcased the single with a live band and a performative sense of flair. Other performers included Breland, Chris Janson, Wynonna Judd, and Lauren Alaina.
Lee released “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” when she was only 13 years old. The gap of 65 years between its release and its ascent on the charts means she has surpassed the 25-year gap between Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” release in 1994 and its rise to the top in 2019.
Billboard shared a video of Lee’s reaction to the news. “No! Me?” Lee said as she wiped away tears and hugged UMG Nashville CEO Cindy Mabe. “That’s fabulous. Wow… All these years. Mr. Marks would be proud.” (She refers to the late Johnny Marks, who wrote the 1958 song.)
Lee described the news as “amazing” in a press release, sharing her excitement and thanking UMG for pushing for the track to reach the milestone. Lee even recorded a music video for the beloved classic, featuring stars like Tanya Tucker and Trisha Yearwood, along with a new holiday EP.
“I cannot believe that ‘Rockin’’ has hit No. 1 65 years after it was released, this is just so special!” she said. “Thank you to the team at UMG/UMe who worked so hard to celebrate the song’s anniversary this year. But most importantly, thank you to the fans who keep listening.”
“The song came out when I was a young teenager and now to know that it has resonated with multiple generations and continues to resonate — it is one of the best gifts I have ever received. Keep on Rockin’ and Merry Christmas!” she added.
This is Lee’s first No. 1 hit since 1960 when she reached the milestone thanks to “I Want to Be Wanted” and “I’m Sorry.” In that decade, Lee held the highest number of entries on the Hot 100 than any other female artist with a total of 46, according to Billboard.