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Rock and Roll Saturday – Bing & Bowie

December 3, 2011
Bing Crosby & David Bowie

Bing Crosby & David Bowie - Sept 11, 1977

September 11, 1977, one of music’s most unlikley collaborations came together when singer David Bowie stood beside Hollywood legend Bing Crosby. Together they recorded what was to become a Christmas classic: Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.

When asked about it later, Bowie related he only did it because his mother liked Crosby. Producers and others involved in the recording session described the event as “surreal,” a “historic encounter.”

The encounter was for an upcoming CBS special, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas. Crosby was a legendary singer and Bowie was known mostly for Ziggy Stardust and Major Tom. Crosby was touring with his family in England at the time. The session with Bowie was one of his last. The legendary singer died of a massive heart attack on a Spanish golf course less than a month later. The show aired on November 30th, six weeks after Crosby’s death.

45 Single

Bowie balked at singing the Little Drummer Boy. He recalled it was one of his least favorite pieces of Christmas music. The producers called on the songwriting talents of Ian Fraser and Larry Grossman to come up with a counterpoint to Crosby singing Drummer Boy.

The result was Peace on Earth which Bowie sang in harmonic sync with Crosby’s pah-rum-pah-pum-pum. They rehearsed the composition for less than an hour before nailing the song on the first take.

On its release as a single, Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth climbed to #3 on the U.K. charts. It has become a staple of Christmas radio in the years since.

On the same Bing Crosby Christmas special, David Bowie sang, Heroes.

This is rare footage of that appearance. (It occurs to me… Can you call it rare if it’s readily available on YouTube?)

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3 Comments
  1. December 3, 2011 2:10 pm

    Be sure to check out the Will Farrell/John C Reilly parody of this Bing/Bowie classic.

  2. December 3, 2011 2:41 pm

    I really enjoyed that. Thank you so much for the link…and the nostalgia.

  3. Diane K. permalink
    December 3, 2011 4:47 pm

    I fell in love with Little Drummer Boy/Peace on earth the first time I heard it. I thought it was a brilliant combination of songs and who would have ever thought to put those 2 together. I still think it is one of the most uniques Xmas songs and I happily listen to it every year!!

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