Song written by Irving Berlin. Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song. One story is that he wrote it in 1940, in warm La Quinta, California, while staying at the La Quinta Hotel, a frequent Hollywood retreat also favored by writer-director-producer Frank Capra, although the Arizona Biltmore also claims the song was written there.
Bing Crosby version
The first public performance of the song was by Bing Crosby, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day, 1941. He subsequently recorded the song with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers for Decca Records in just 18 minutes on May 29, 1942, and it was released on July 30 as part of an album of six 78-rpm songs from the film Holiday Inn. The song initially performed poorly and was overshadowed by Holiday Inn's first hit song: "Be Careful, It's My Heart". By the end of October 1942, "White Christmas" topped the chart. It remained in that position until well into the new year.
Re-released by Decca, the single returned to the #1 spot during the holiday seasons of 1945 and 1946 (on the chart dated January 4, 1947), thus becoming the only single with three separate runs at the top of the U.S. charts. The recording became a chart perennial, reappearing annually on the pop chart twenty separate times before Billboard magazine created a distinct Christmas chart for seasonal releases.
The version most often heard today is not the original 1942 Crosby recording, as the master had become damaged due to frequent use. Crosby re-recorded the track on March 18, 1947, accompanied again by the Trotter Orchestra and the Darby Singers, with every effort made to reproduce the original recording session. There are subtle differences in the orchestration, most notably the addition of a celesta and flutes to brighten up the introduction. Crosby dismissed his role in the song's success, saying later that "a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully." But Crosby was associated with it for the rest of his career.
"White Christmas" is the most-recorded Christmas song; there have been more than 500 recorded versions of the song, in several different languages. Famous versions were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, The Drifters, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, The Supremes, Barbra Streisand, John Denver, Boney M., Michael Bolton, Kenny G, Chicago, Crash Test Dummies, Westlife, Michael Buble and Erasure.
Kim Wilde version
Kim Wilde performed the song during her Christmas concerts at Knebworth House in December 2014 and December 2015.