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John Frederick Coots

John Frederick Coots
Birth name John Frederick Coots
Also known as J. Frederick Coots
Born (1897-05-02)May 2, 1897
Origin Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died April 8, 1985(1985-04-08) (aged 87)
New York City, U.S.A.
Genres Tin Pan Alley
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Haven Gillespie

John Frederick Coots (May 2, 1897 – April 8, 1985) was a prolific American songwriter.[1] He composed over 700 popular songs and over a dozen Broadway shows. In 1934 Coots wrote the melody with his then chief collaborator, lyricist Haven Gillespie, for the biggest hit for them both "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."[2][3][4][5] The song became one of the biggest sellers in American history.[6]

In 1934 when Gillespie brought him the lyrics to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", Coots came up with the skeleton of the music in just ten minutes. Coots took the song to his publisher, Leo Feist Inc., who liked it but thought it was "a kids' song" and didn't expect too much from it.[7] Coots offered the song to Eddie Cantor who used it on his radio show that November and it became an instant hit. The morning after the radio show there were orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and by Christmas sales had passed 400,000.


  • Career timeline 1
  • Selected songs 2
  • Selected musicals 3
  • External links 4
  • Notes and references 5

Career timeline

1897 May 2 – born in Brooklyn, New York[upper-alpha 1]
1914 (age 17) – began work with Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. in New York[8]
1916 (age 20) – first hit song published, "Mr. Ford You've Got the Right Idea," words by Ray Sherwood, music by Coots; A. J. Stasny Music Co., publisher OCLC 726927577[8]
1919 (age 22) – Actor-producer Eddie Dowling gave Coots his first chance at writing a musical score for Friars' Frolics
1922 (age 25) – Dowling commissioned Coots to write the songs for Sally, Irene and Mary, a show which ran for two years on Broadway
1928 (age 31) – wrote "Doin' the Raccoon"
1929 (age 32) – moved to Hollywood, California
1931 (age 34) – wrote "Love Letters in the Sand"
1934 (age 37) – wrote the songs "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (over 4 million copies of sheet music sold) and "For All We Know"
1940 (age 43) – wrote "The Rangers' Victory Song";[lower-roman 1] OCLC 812404397
1985 (age 89) April 8 – died in New York City

Selected songs

Leo Feist, Inc., publisher (1934); OCLC 21070165 and 11064929
© September 27, 1934, Class E unpublished 93634, Leo Feist, Inc., New York[lower-roman 2]
© October 23, 1934, Class E published 44456, October 25, 1934, Leo Feist, Inc.[lower-roman 3]
© Renewal September 27, 1961, R28248025, Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots
© Renewal October 25, 1961, R283907, Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots[1]
Remick Music (1938); OCLC 44053966 and 858643370
Mills Music (1935); OCLC 27211518
© April 5, 1935, Class E 47450, Mills Music, Inc., New York[lower-roman 4]
Leo Feist, Inc. (1934); OCLC 21070175 and 40509506
© March 14, 1934, Class E unpublished 84751, Leo Feist, Inc., New York[lower-roman 5]
  • "I Still Get a Thrill (Thinking of You)," words by Benny Davis, music by Coots
Davis, Coots & Engel[upper-alpha 2] (1930); OCLC 13168438

Selected musicals

  • Sally, Irene and Mary, music by Coots, words by Raymond W. Klages (1888–1947), March 23, 1925 – April 4, 1925 & September 4, 1922 – June 2, 1923 OCLC 498812201 and 498526150
  1. "Kid Days" OCLC [1]
  2. "Time Will Tell" OCLC 39975531 and 224102588
  3. "Pals"
  4. "Stage Door Johnnies"
  5. "I Wonder Why" OCLC 20597875
  6. "Do You Remember?"
  7. "How I've Missed You Mary" OCLC 891128783
  8. "Right Boy Comes Along"
  9. "Our Home Sweet Home"
  10. "Peacock Alley"
  11. "Something in Here"
  12. "Opportunity"
  13. "We Are Waiting"
  14. "Clouds Roll By" OCLC 498831287
  15. "Until You Say Yes"
  16. "Wedding Time"
  17. "Old Fashioned Gown" OCLC 755811220 and 498526150
  18. "When a Regular Boy Loves a Regular Girl" OCLC 755811215 and 497282681
  19. "Up on Fifth Avenue Near Central Park"
  20. "Jimmy" OCLC 497894150
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