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

Christmas is a magical time that holds different meanings for each of us. Whether it be giving gifts, spending time with loved ones, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere, the holiday season brings warmth to our hearts. And when it comes to Christmas music, one name stands out among the rest – Bing Crosby.

Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas” has become a timeless classic, capturing the spirit of the holidays like no other. With over 50 million copies sold, it holds the title of the best-selling Christmas song and the best-selling single in history. Crosby’s love for Christmas was evident through his numerous Christmas Television Specials, but it was his final special in 1977 that would create a legendary moment.

During this special, Bing Crosby invited David Bowie to join him in a duet of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” However, what many people don’t know is that Bowie initially disliked the song and only agreed to perform with Crosby for one reason.

The story goes that Bowie’s mother was a fan of Bing Crosby, and out of love for her, he agreed to participate in the special. But there was one condition – Bowie refused to sing “Little Drummer Boy.” Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan, the writers of Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, had to come up with a solution. They created a counter-melody for Bowie to sing simultaneously with Crosby’s rendition, and thus “Peace on Earth” was born.

On the day of the recording, Bowie and Crosby’s first meeting was far from harmonious. Crosby was taken aback by Bowie’s appearance, with his full-length mink coat, vibrant red hair, and matching makeup. But as they spent time together and worked on the song, they began to appreciate each other’s musical talents. The transformation was evident to Crosby’s daughter, Mary, who witnessed her father’s initial skepticism turn into admiration for Bowie.

Tragically, just one month after recording the duet, Bing Crosby passed away. The world mourned the loss of a music icon, but his legacy lived on through the timeless Christmas duet with Bowie. The song became one of Bowie’s best-selling singles, with 400,000 copies sold in the UK alone.

Reflecting on their collaboration, Bowie described the experience as unique. Despite their differences and lack of familiarity with each other’s music, they created something special. Crosby’s presence during the recording was described by Bowie as distant and detached, yet the magic between the two artists shone through.

Listen to this incredible duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie and immerse yourself in the beauty of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”


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