Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Peace On Earth / The Little Drummer Boy

I know what I was doing on November 30, 1977. I was watching Merrie Olde Christmas special as a kid. I didn’t appreciate the weirdness of the combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie at the time. Something that the seventies did well and sometimes bad…was to intersect generations on variety shows. This one was a good combination.

This special had guest stars  Twiggy, David Bowie, Ron Moody, Stanley Baxter, and The Trinity Boys Choir. It was the duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie that has been remembered. I remember watching this knowing that Bing Crosby had died the month earlier. The duet was taped on September 11, 1977, and Crosby died on October 14, 1977.

David Bowie’s mother was a huge Bing Crosby fan and Bing Crosby’s children were big David Bowie fans…so the two agreed to sing together. It was questionable at first if it would work out.

Mary Crosby: “The doors opened and David walked in with his wife,” she recalled. “They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red. We were thinking, ‘Oh my god.'” Nathaniel Crosby, Bing’s son, added: “It almost didn’t happen. I think the producers told him to take the lipstick off and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”

Another possible hitch happened with Bowie. He didn’t like The Little Drummer Boy and refused to sing it. The writers then wrote a revised version of the song that he liked. They wrote a counterpart section for Bowie to sing. Crosby liked the challenge of his part. The rest is history and one of the most unusual pairings you will ever see…

One funny part is Bowie’s idea of “older fellas” at the time is John Lennon and Harry Nilsson.

The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A newborn king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

[Verse 2: Bowie and Crosby]
Peace on Earth can it be?
Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Years from now, perhaps we’ll see?
A newborn king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day of glory
Our finest gift we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day, when men of good will
To lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Live in peace, live in peace again
Rum-pum-pum-pum, Rum-pum-pum-pum
Peace on Earth
So to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Can it be
When we come

[Bridge: Bowie and Crosby in unison]
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

[Verse 4: Bowie and Crosby]
I pray my wish will come true
Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
For my child and your child too
I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
He’ll see the day of glory
I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day when men of good will
I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Live in peace, live in peace again
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
Peace on Earth
Me and my drum
Can it be

Can it be