Skip to comments.Bowie & Crosby - 'Peace on Earth / The Little Drummer Boy'
Posted on 12/23/2015 7:05:03 PM PST by Bratch
...a Christmas classic...
Bing Crosby had an annual Christmas TV special; this was recorded on 11 Sept. 1977 for the show which would be broadcast that year: 'Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas.'
The pair exchanged dialogue about what they do for Christmas before singing "Little Drummer Boy" with a new counterpoint with original lyrics written for the special, "Peace on Earth." Bowie's appearance has been described as a "surreal" event, undertaken at a time that he was "actively trying to normalise his career."
He has since recalled that he 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."
Crosby died on October 14, just over a month after recording the special. In the U.S., the show aired on 30 November 1977 on CBS.
I love this version. But Bowie was just so damn weird.
Um, I’m afraid I never could quite take this. Bowie always creeped me out, adding an unsettling disquiet to the performance.
I do like early-era, more jazz-tinged Crosby, though. Like his vocals with Whiteman, on records like “Without a Song” or “After You’ve Gone,” both from 1929. But not particularly Christmasy, I admit.
I met David Bowie when I worked as a DJ in Dallas in 1970. He had just released Space Oddity and was doing a solo promotional tour totally by himself. No rwcord promoter with him which was highly unusual.
He had come to town on a Greyhound Bus because he was afraid to fly. He looked completely normal then and was wearing blue jeans and a blue dungaree shirt.
The only unusual thing about him was his torn pupil, which he told me happened in a bar fight.
Yes, this is a touching video. I have always enjoyed this duet.
Not bad, but this one is also nice:
I am sure Bing and Bowie got along pretty well behind the scenes of this slightly stagey performance.
Despite his grandfatherly appearance Bing was a popular musician who made it, like most popular musicians, the hard way, playing no doubt in sleazy joints and meeting all the seamy underside of life in the entertainment industry. There is nothing new under the sun and I am pretty certain there were plenty of guys like Bowie on the circuit in the 1920s just as there was in the 1950s, 1970s and today.
One thing I have found about musicians is they all pretty much get along regardless of music type, age, background or race. If you can carry a tune and can jam together most musicians will welcome you and give respect where it’s due.
Love this version...
And he died a month later? I remember watching it when it first was on tv and I never knew that Bing had passed on....
Awkward but wonderful
I remember my folks found it unusual
Around 73 I think
Interesting back story on the duet, which has been frequently retold.
Original plans called for Bowie and Crosby to sign “The Little Drummer Boy.” But just before the segment was scheduled to be taped, Bowie told producers he hated the song and refused to sing it. So, the program’s writers and arrangers adjourned and wrote “Peace on Earth” in about an hour and found a way to combine it with “The Little Drummer Boy.” Bowie liked it, so did Bing and they nailed it with less than an hour of rehearsal.
Incidentally, the TV special aired in 1977, but RCA didn’t get around to releasing the duet as single until 1982.
If you want a REAL treat, check out Bing’s 1950s album with the Bob Scobey jazz band, a San Francisco combo. It’s Bing getting back to his roots in a more modern setting, and that band really swings. HIGHLY recommended! It’s on Rhapsody, and I think Amazon Prime as well.
Had no knowledge Crosby did such an album in the 1950s. Always figured his jazz emphasis just gradually started fading away as he got older and his movie career went from loose, zippy 1930s musical-comedies to the 1940s ones with more dramatic underpinnings. Still, I recall his films sometimes offering up a few bits with Wingy Manone, Louis Prima and such, so I never sensed he really divested himself of the genre.
Plus, his brother Bob sure had one heck of a band, with great jazz soloists like Eddie Miller, Irving Fazola, and such.
Yes, Bob had a great band indeed. Check out the Scobey album for sure. Some very cool songs, prime Bing in his “High Society” - “White Christmas” era. And a perfect jazz-Dixieland vibe. It’s a keeper.
Love this song and the dualing melodies of their voices. My Christmas favorite.
Someone just this week informed me that Will Ferrell and John C Riley spoofed this. Hate to admit it but it’s pretty funny. If you like Ferrell. Which many around here don’t because of his politics. Totally understandable. Anyway. Here it is. https://youtu.be/EJBFD-Wvc7U
This Sinatra-Crosby Christmas show was on TCM last night.
Covered nicely by the Irish trio, “The Priests,” and Shane McGowan, formerly of the Pogues...
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