Bing Crosby, the legendary Christmas crooner, has brought joy and warmth to hearts around the world for decades. His timeless rendition of “White Christmas” has become a cherished holiday tradition. But there’s one special collaboration that many may not know about – the duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie.
In 1977, just a month before Crosby’s passing, he and Bowie came together to perform “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” The result was a beautiful Christmas song that has endured as a classic. However, there’s a fascinating story behind their collaboration that adds an extra layer of meaning to the performance.
David Bowie, known for his eclectic style and rock music, initially disliked “Little Drummer Boy” and did not want to sing it with Bing Crosby. However, he agreed to appear on Crosby’s Christmas special because of his mother’s admiration for the legendary singer. To accommodate Bowie’s reluctance, the writers of the show, Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan, came up with a brilliant solution.
They created a counter-melody for Bowie to sing simultaneously with Crosby’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.” This new melody, titled “Peace on Earth,” added a unique twist to the song. Together with the original lyrics, the duet became a harmonious blend of two different voices, creating a magical Christmas experience.
The collaboration between Bing Crosby and David Bowie was not without its initial challenges. When Bowie and his then-wife Angela arrived at the studio, Crosby was taken aback by their unconventional appearance. But as they worked together on the song, Crosby began to appreciate Bowie’s talent and called him a “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show.”
Tragically, just a month after the recording, Bing Crosby passed away from a heart attack. The world mourned the loss of a music icon, and the Christmas show with Bowie aired after his death. The duet became one of Bowie’s most beloved singles, selling an estimated 400,000 copies in the UK alone.
Reflecting on the experience, David Bowie described his time with Bing Crosby as unique. Despite their differences, they managed to create something truly special. Bowie recalled Crosby’s presence on set, saying, “He was just… not there. It was the most bizarre experience. But I knew my mother liked him.”
So, as you listen to the beautiful “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” duet, remember the heartwarming story behind it. It’s a testament to the power of music and the spirit of Christmas, bringing together two artists from different worlds to create something unforgettable.