John Frederick Coots

John Frederick Coots (May 2, 1897 – April 8, 1985) was an American songwriter.

He wrote over 700 songs and is most famous for “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, a song that became one of the biggest best sellers in American music history.


Among his songs are:

  • “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
  • “You Go To My Head”
  • “Louisiana Fairy Tale”
  • “For All We Know”
  • “I Still Get a Thrill (Thinking of You)”

He wrote the first three songs with the lyricist Haven Gillespie. “Louisiana Fairy Tale” was also written with Mitchell Parish and was the first theme song for the PBS production of This Old House. “For All We Know” was written with lyricist Sam M. Lewis.

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. Later when Coots brought the song to his publisher, Leo Feist Inc., they liked it but thought it was a kids’ song and did not expect too much from it.

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.