David Bowie & Bing Crosby Sing “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” (1977)

We like to bring this chest­nut back from time to time. Watch it, and you’ll know why.

In 1977, just a short month before Bing Cros­by died of a heart attack, the 40s croon­er host­ed David Bowie, the glam rock­er, on his Christ­mas show. The awk­ward­ness of the meet­ing is pal­pa­ble. An old­er, crusty Cros­by had no real famil­iar­i­ty with the younger, androg­y­nous Bowie, and Bowie was­n’t crazy about singing The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy. So, short­ly before the show’s tap­ing, a team of writ­ers had to fran­ti­cal­ly retool the song, blend­ing the tra­di­tion­al Christ­mas song with a new­ly-writ­ten tune called Peace on Earth. (You can watch the writ­ers tell the sto­ry, years lat­er, below.)

After one hour of rehearsal, the two singers record­ed The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy/Peace on Earth and made a lit­tle clas­sic. The Wash­ing­ton Post has the back­sto­ry on the strange Bing-Bowie meet­ing. Also find a Will Fer­rell par­o­dy of the meet­ing here. We hope you enjoy revis­it­ing this clip with us. Hap­py hol­i­days to you all.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

David Bowie’s Fash­ion­able Mug Shot From His 1976 Mar­i­jua­na Bust

How Leonard Cohen & David Bowie Faced Death Through Their Art: A Look at Their Final Albums

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.