For over 60 years millions of children and families have sung the classic song, "Here Comes Peter Cottontail," in the days leading up to Easter Sunday.
Originally recorded by the legendary Gene Autry, the song was featured in 1971 in an Easter television special
by the same name, and has been played in many holiday shows and movies since its release in 1949. It went on to sell more than a million copies and became a traditional favorite.
Subsequent version were recorded by many great recording artists, including Rosemary Clooney
, Guy Lombardo, Roy Rogers and Dinah Shore.
Jack Rollins, 1906-1973, a native of Keyser, West Virginia, and a 2011 WV Music Hall of Fame
inductee, is credited with writing Peter Cottontail, along with 500 other various tunes. "He wrote songs for dozens of country stars, including George Jones and Eddy Arnold and a number one hit in 1953, 'I Don’t Hurt Anymore for Hank Snow,'" reported
the Charleston Gazette.
According to Michael Lipton, Project Director for the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, "Rollins is a quintessential “unsung heroes” of the music business.
"While few know him by name, it’s not an exaggeration to say that everyone – young and old – is familiar with at least one of his songs," said Lipton. "He just really hit the mark with both of his holiday songs. They're both instantly recognizable to people all over the world and I really can't think of another Easter song than any more well known than Peter Cottontail," reports
West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
Jack Rollins is said to have written the song in six minutes after hearing a story told to him by his friend Steve Nelson, who was a disc jockey, radio producer, singer and musician. Nelson would tell different versions of bedtime stories, featuring a rabbit named Peter to his son, to get him to go to sleep at night. Inspired by his friends tale, Rollins wrote "Here Comes Peter Cottontail." Nelson wrote the music for the popular tune with Rollins.
Its been over 35 years since Rollins was buried in the mountains of West Virginia, but his music will live on in the hearts and minds of his fans, both young and old, who delighted in his holiday music, including "Here Comes Peter Cottontail."
"Rollins is scheduled to be inducted into the WV Music Hall of Fame along with Grammy winner Kathy Mattea, Connie Smith, Billy Cox, Tommy Thompson, Diamond Teeth Mary and Butch Miles on October 15, 2011. The ceremony will be held
at the Culture Center Theater and filmed for statewide broadcast by WV Public TV," according to the WV Music Hall of Fame.
for this year's ceremonies will be Huntington, WV native Peter Marshall, five-time Emmy winning host of the popular game show Hollywood Squares and Morgan Spurlock from Beckley, WV, acclaimed director of 'Super Size Me."