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!
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:
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…
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!
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.
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!
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.’
“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!”
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.”
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!
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 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:
Among the more famous holiday classics is this one by John Lennon and Yoko Ono:
You can hear this iconic music video here:
If all of this makes you want to hear more great holiday music, check out Hall & Oates:
H&O made a terrific holiday album, see some of the music videos here:
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Enjoy the holidays!