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

Bing Crosby, the beloved Christmas legend, is synonymous with the joy of the holiday season. His iconic voice has warmed hearts for decades, and his recording of the classic “White Christmas” has become a national treasure. But one particular Christmas duet stands out among the rest, and the story behind it is truly captivating.

In 1977, just one month before Crosby’s passing, he and David Bowie sang a beautiful rendition of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” together, solidifying Crosby’s spot as a true music legend. Their unexpected collaboration has since become a timeless Christmas classic, but many people don’t know the reason for Bowie’s decision to sing with Crosby.

The legendary British musician David Bowie wasn’t particularly fond of the song. He hated it. However, he agreed to perform with Crosby because his mother loved Bing Crosby. A simple act of love and appreciation for his mother brought these two iconic artists together.

When we think of Christmas, we all have different things that come to mind. Christmas holds a special place in our hearts, whether it’s the joy of giving and showing love to our near and dear ones or the magical atmosphere created by classic holiday songs.

And for many, Bing Crosby is the soundtrack to Christmas, with his “White Christmas” recording being the best-selling Christmas song of all time.

Bing Crosby’s final Christmas special in 1977 was when he invited David Bowie to join him. While the footage of their performance exudes warmth and love, the backstage story is quite different.

Bowie initially refused to sing the original song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” with Crosby, stating that he hated the song. This challenged the show’s writers, Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan, who wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to bring these incredible talents together.

To resolve the issue, Grossman, Kohan, and Ian Fraser created a counter-melody for Bowie to sing simultaneously with Crosby’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.” Thus, the beautiful song “Peace on Earth” was born. Spending 75 minutes in the studio basement, they worked together to create a seamless blend of both artists’ voices.

It’s interesting to note that Crosby and Bowie didn’t initially get along when they first met. Bowie’s striking appearance, with full-length mink coats and bright red hair, left Crosby’s family surprised and unsure about him. However, Crosby’s opinion of Bowie changed as they spent more time together and worked on the song.

He saw Bowie’s musical talent and called him a “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show.” The transformation in their relationship was evident during the recording, as both artists relaxed and created something truly magical.

Tragically, Bing Crosby died just one month after recording the duet due to a heart attack. The world mourned the loss of the beloved singer, and the Christmas special featuring his duet with Bowie aired after his death. The song became one of Bowie’s all-time best singles, selling an estimated 400,000 copies in the UK alone.

Reflecting on his experience working with Bing Crosby, David Bowie described it as a unique and surreal moment. Despite their differences and lack of familiarity with each other, they produced something special. In an interview, Bowie recalled, “He looked like a little old orange sitting on a stool.

‘Cos he’d been made up very heavily, and his skin was a bit pitted, and there was just nobody home at all, you know? It was the most bizarre experience. I didn’t know anything about him. I just knew my mother liked him.”

The duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie remains a testament to the power of music and the unexpected connections that can be formed. Their collaboration, fueled by love and appreciation, has left an indelible mark on the Christmas music canon. So take a moment to listen to this beautiful song and let the magic of their voices transport you to the spirit of Christmas.