The Heartwarming Story Behind Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s Christmas Duet

In the realm of Christmas music, there are few songs more iconic than Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas.” But did you know that the legendary crooner once collaborated with a rock music icon, David Bowie? This unexpected duet resulted in a beautiful and enduring Christmas song that holds a special place in many hearts.

A Surprising Collaboration

In 1977, just a month before Bing Crosby’s passing, he and David Bowie joined forces to perform “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” This duet, combining the classic carol with a new counter-melody, became a truly magical Christmas experience.

A Reluctant Bowie

David Bowie, known for his eclectic style and rock music, initially had reservations about singing “Little Drummer Boy” alongside Crosby. However, he agreed to appear on Crosby’s Christmas special out of respect for his mother’s admiration of the legendary singer. The show’s writers, Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan, came up with a brilliant solution to accommodate Bowie’s reluctance.

A Twist to the Song

To make the collaboration work, a counter-melody titled “Peace on Earth” was created for Bowie to sing simultaneously with Crosby’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.” This added twist gave the song a unique and harmonious blend of two distinct voices, resulting in a truly memorable Christmas experience.

The initial meeting between Crosby and Bowie was not without its challenges. Crosby was taken aback by Bowie’s unconventional appearance when he and his then-wife Angela arrived at the studio. However, as they worked together on the song, Crosby grew to appreciate Bowie’s talent and even referred to him as a “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show.”

A Bittersweet Success

Unfortunately, tragedy struck just a month after the recording when Bing Crosby passed away from a heart attack. This left the world mourning the loss of a music icon. The Christmas show featuring Bowie’s duet with Crosby aired after his death, becoming one of Bowie’s most beloved singles. In the UK alone, it sold an estimated 400,000 copies.

Reflecting on the experience, David Bowie described his time with Bing Crosby as something truly unique. Despite their differences, they managed to create something remarkable. 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 and heartwarming “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” duet this Christmas, remember the touching story behind it. It serves as a testament to the power of music and the spirit of Christmas, bringing together two artists from different worlds to create something truly unforgettable.