Bing Crosby Meets David Bowie! The Secrets Behind The Greatest Christmas Song! “The Little Drummer Boy / “Peace On Earth!”

great-holiday-songs-bing-crosby-david-bowie

David Bowie Croons With Bing Crosby!

Talk about one of the most unusual musical duos of all time! Legendary Musical Artist David Bowie sang a holiday duet with one of Hollywood’s legendary crooners – Bing Crosby!

White-Christmas holiday

Bing Crosby is a holiday favorite – due to his classic films “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas” – two of my favorites…see more of my top holiday classics here:

https://johnrieber.com/2016/12/11/love-actually-del-griffith-fra-gee-lay-counting-down-the-nine-greatest-holiday-movies/

As for “Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth”, before I share some secrets about this song, it’s time to watch the incredible video, which begins with a nice conversation between the two before it heads into musical magic…

david-bowie-classic-christmas-gon-bing-crosby

The Secrets Behind The Magic!

As I researched this story, I came across a couple of fascinating stories about the recording of this song. First, this took place in September 1977 – when Bowie was at the top of the charts for songs such as his smash hit “Fame”, written with John Lennon in 1975!

david-bowie-fame-hit-single

john-lennon-and-david-bowie-fame-song

Bowie had already wowed the music world with “Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”, “Diamond Dogs” and “Young Americans”, so he was a popular as a modern musical Artist could be.

Bing Crosby, on the other hand, was best known for the classic holiday film “White Christmas”, his hit movies with Comedian Bob Hope – and his annual Christmas specials that aired on TV.

david-bowie-bing-crosby-christmas-song

Cue Their Date With Musical History!

Here’s how it happened: Bowie agreed to sing a song with Crosby for his upcoming television special, “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.” They shot the scene in September of 1977. As you saw on the video, they first chatted about what they each do on their family holiday, before singing the classic song “The Little Drummer Boy”…but here is where it gets even more interesting!

bing-crosby-and-david-bowie-christmas-song

Bowie Sang For His Mom!

Here is how wikipedia describes the events surrounding the taping of the song – and Bowie’s reluctance to perform!

“Bowie’s appearance has been described as a ‘surreal’ event, undertaken at a time that he was ‘actively trying to normalise his career’. He later admitted to having only appeared on the show because ‘I just knew my mother liked him’. Buz Kohan was not sure that Crosby knew who Bowie was, but Ian Fraser claimed, ‘I’m pretty sure he did. Bing was no idiot. If he didn’t, his kids sure did.’

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Bing CROSBY and David BOWIE; with Bing Crosby, performing Little Drummer Boy  (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Bing CROSBY and David BOWIE; with Bing Crosby, performing Little Drummer Boy (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

“Peace On Earth” Was Written On The Spot!

The last bit of trivia involved the song “Peace On Earth” – which was written because Bowie didn’t want to sing “Drummer Boy!”

According to co-writer Ian Fraser, Bowie balked at singing “Little Drummer Boy”: “I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?”, Fraser recalls Bowie telling him. Fraser, along with songwriter Larry Grossman and the special’s scriptwriter, Buz Kohan, then wrote “Peace on Earth” as a counterpoint to “Little Drummer Boy”. Crosby performed “Little Drummer Boy”, while Bowie sang the new tune “Peace on Earth”, which they reportedly performed after less than an hour of rehearsal!”

great-holiday-songs-bing-crosby-david-bowie


Crosby Compliments The Thin White Duke!

Here is what Bing Crosby said about Bowie after filming – he called him:

“A clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well.”

bowie-crosby-christmas

Sadly, Crosby died a month after recording with Bowie, and the show aired just over a month after that, on November 30, 1977, on CBS.

The song was released as a single several years later in 1982, and climbed to #3 on the charts, one of David Bowie’s fastest selling singles ever!

david-bowie-classic-christmas-gon-bing-crosby

The song is now a holiday classic, and their video together is beautiful…I love when modern Artists take on holiday songs, like this classic:

the-eagles-please-come-home-for-christmas

The Eagles had a huge hit with “Please Come Home For Christmas”…check out the song – and their “Funky New Year” – by clicking on my story here:


https://johnrieber.com/2016/12/02/the-eagles-beautiful-christmas-single-please-come-home-for-christmas-funky-new-year-too/

Among the more famous holiday classics is this one by John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

happy_xmas_war_is_over-cover

You can hear this iconic music video here:

https://johnrieber.com/2016/12/06/happy-xmas-war-is-over-john-lennons-powerful-anti-war-christmas-song/

If all of this makes you want to hear more great holiday music, check out Hall & Oates:

Hall and Oates Home For Christmas

H&O made a terrific holiday album, see some of the music videos here:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/12/17/its-a-hall-oates-holiday-classic-christmas-music-macy-greys-santa-claus-shoutout-2/

And if all this holiday music makes you want to shop, why not buy these for your friends his holiday season!

holiday-cigarette-ad-with-celebrities

Yes, time to go back to Vintage Hollywood when celebrities sold boxes of cigarettes as the perfect holiday gift!

See more of these classic ads here:

https://johnrieber.com/2016/12/12/classic-celebrity-holiday-ads-frankfurters-cigarettes-vintage-stars-selling-smokes/

Enjoy the holidays!

david-bowie-bing-crosby-christmas-song



Categories: Art, Books / Media, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Music, Obscure Music, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show

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17 replies

  1. Cool collaboration! I had never seen this. Thank you.

  2. Great little trip down memory lane. Thanks.

  3. This is my favourite Christmas music video. I adore it. I even love the JC Reilly and Will Ferrell version. Great post!

  4. I never realized Bing passed before the episode aired. It’s always been one of my favorite holiday songs – thanks for sharing such cool tidbits about it!

  5. I remember hearing that there was absolutely no interaction before the hour of rehearsal subsequent to the take. It was straight in, straight out. I didn’t get the impression of it bein a meeting of minds – even if their voices blended beautifully!

  6. That was a strange pairing indeed, and I confess I found that song very irritating. But it remains as a great example of collaboration between two very different types of vocalist.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. It’s a beautiful medley rendition of the Little Drummer Boy.

  8. Two of my favourite singers, John. An interesting duo to be sure.

  9. It’s a good song and Bing was right about Bowie’s acting ability.

  10. It’s so sweet that he did this to make him mum happy! 😀

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