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12 December 2023, 13:49
It's one of the most joyous, finger-clicking Christmas songs that gets festivities kicking off as soon as its played.
The Ronettes' classic 'Sleigh Ride' has soundtracked many a festive season since its first release, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Christmas songs ever.
The proof is in the pudding, given that it re-enters the charts almost every year, despite not actually making any specific reference to Christmas. But sleigh rides and Santa Claus go hand-in-hand.
So who wrote 'Sleigh Ride'? When was it released? Has anyone else covered it over the years? Here's all you need to know:
The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride (Official Music Video)
'Sleigh Ride' was originally written as a breezy orchestral song by Leroy Anderson in the summer of 1946, eventually finishing his composition in February 1948.
After performing in for the very first time with the Boston Pops Orchestra later that year, eventually getting a recording for RCA Victor Red Seal Records, later becoming the orchestra's signature hit.
It wasn't until 1950 that 'Sleigh Ride' was given lyrics, when Mitchell Parish penned words about wintertime activities and wonderment.
The Ronettes were edging closer to giving up on their music career, disillusioned with their lack of success under Colpix Records, until record producer Phil Spector changed everything.
Encouraging them to sign to his record label Philles Records, once the trio signed, they had instant success with their iconic 1963 hit 'Be My Baby', which Cher actually sang backing vocals on.
Wanting to continue to heighten The Ronettes' profile, Spector decided to cap off a landmark year by releasing an album of Christmas standards recorded by the groups signed to his label including The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and The Crystals.
Giving some Christmas classics his famed 'Wall Of Sound' production technique, Spector helped modernise the idea of a Christmas hit with the 1963 album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector.
Because of The Ronettes' visual appeal and youthful vibrancy, many believed that their version of 'Sleigh Ride' was a sexual euphemism, which arguably aided its popularity.
The Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson even tried to get in on the act, recording piano parts for the album which were later rejected. Wilson continues to cite A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector as his favourite album of all time.
Due to Spector's perfectionism in the recording studio however, he pushed his artists too far to belt out their vocal performances as powerfully as possible.
Ronette Nedra Talley later recalled: "The Christmas album was the one where I'd thought I'd lost it mentally. I heard the parts. I swore I'd put them down, but they said it wasn't on the tape."
'Sleigh Ride' wasn't actually a success after its initial release, but there's a simple explanation for why.
Featuring on A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, the album was released on 22nd November 1963, the same day as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Since then, most of the songs on the album are now considered Christmas standards, with The Ronettes' version of 'Sleigh Ride' being deemed the definitive.
It wasn't until Spector's Christmas album was re-released on The Beatles' Apple Records in 1972 when it made a significant impact in the US and UK charts.
After The Ronettes and Phil Spector transformed 'Sleigh Ride' into a bonafide Christmas standard however, it's been covered by countless artists since.
The Osmonds, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gwen Stefani, Harry Connick Jr., Glen Campbell, Garth Brooks, Chicago, Carole King, and Miley Cyrus have all recorded their own versions.
Earth, Wind & Fire - Sleigh Ride