Back in 1977, a meeting of two contrasting musical worlds came to be for a Christmas television special. Bing Crosby and David Bowie, both superstars in their own right, appeared on the former’s Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas together to perform the 1941 classic “The Little Drummer Boy”, which featured a special counterpoint written specifically for the special by writers Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Buz Kohan, titled “Peace On Earth”. The counterpoint was written at the behest of Bowie, who was not a fan of “The Little Drummer Boy” and did not want to sing the tune.
As Crosby’s bass-baritone sang the holiday classic, complimented by Bowie’s performance of the newly-penned addendum “Peace On Earth”, the duet’s performance (with all of a one-hour rehearsal prior to recording) would go on to become one of the most celebrated Christmas songs ever. Crosby, one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, would later describe Bowie as a “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well.”
For Bowie, the opportunity to perform with the legend came at a time when he was toning down his style to “normalize” his career, afterward explaining that his decision to make the appearance on the program with Crosby was due to the fact that “I just knew my mother liked him.” Regardless of that fact, an instant classic was born, merely five weeks before Crosby would suffer a heart attack and pass away at the age of 74. Take a listen below.
Bing Crosby & David Bowie – “The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)”