Christmas classic ‘nearly banned’ as star forced to explain beloved track

Before anyone had ever discovered what being "cancelled" meant, one Christmas track was almost pulled before it even hit the radio.

Back in 1952, 13-year-old Jimmy Boyd recorded the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus for Columbia Records, and while it became a hit, they nearly weren't so lucky. After Boyd recorded the track, he went on to release a few other songs before kicking off an acting career.

He landed a spot as a regular cast member on sit-com Date with the Angels, starring Betty White, and then became a regular on Bachelor Father. But had he not issued a statement about his previously controversial song, things could have ended far sooner for him.

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While we've heard understandable controversy surrounding Fairytale of New York and apprehension about the true intentions behind Baby, It's Cold Outside, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus might not immediately strike you as controversial.

But in 1952, the song had so much backlash it was removed from radio stations. In the track, little Jimmy is singing about sneaking down stairs to have a peep. When he gets downstairs, he discovers his mum kissing Santa Claus.

Some religious groups were furious at the insinuation of cheating, and after speaking out, various radio stations banned the song in a bid to avoid controversy. Eventually Jimmy had to go before church leaders and explain the song.

He told them that while the lyrics don't say it outright, it's clearly dad in the Santa Claus suit, which is why his mum is kissing him. The narrator is unreliable and doesn't realise it's his dad.

As soon as he issued his statement, the song was given the green light and has been recorded over and over again – and it still gets played on the radio.

There ended up being multiple versions of the song, including one by The Ronettes, Jackson 5 and John Mellencamp, to name a few. For his contributions to the recording industry, he was awarded a star on the Hollwood Walk of Fame in 1959.

It made him the youngest person – at just 20 years old – to receive the honour, until Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen jointly received a star in 2004.

After a long career, Jimmy Boyd died of cancer in 2009 at 70 years old, but his festive track has remained a popular Christmas song ever since.

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