How Bowie and Bing Made Christmas Magic
If you have spent any time listening to Q1057 or any Rock radio station around the world at Christmas time over the last 40 years you have heard David Bowie and Bing Crosby sing "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy" together.
How did these 2 artists from 2 different worlds come together to sing 2 different songs at the same time? By 1977 David Bowie, at 30 years of age, had already released "Space Oddity", "Changes", "Fame" and "Suffragette City" to name a few and was leading the Glam Rock scene. Bing on the other hand was 73 and had been a recording artist for 8 years before David was born!
By September of 1977 Bowie was asked to be a guest on the Bing Crosby TV special, "Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas". David agreed to do the show to promote his latest single "Heroes", which he performed on the show as well, and because his mom really liked Bing.
Initially it was suggested that they perform "Little Drummer Boy" but Bowie did not care for that tune. That is when the show's song writers penned "Peace On Earth" and added it to "Little Drummer Boy" to be performed simultaneously. Even their respective parts reflected their differences. "Little Drummer Boy" was originally released in 1941 and "Peace On Earth" written in '77 specifically for Bowie to sing on this show. Old and new. New and old. Together.
2 different artists from 2 different worlds and still, after just 1 hour of rehearsal, they recorded the song together and it went on to become Bowie's career best selling single. The television special debuted in America November 30, 1977 on CBS. Sadly Bing Crosby never got to see the show as he passed of a heart attack 5 weeks after filming.
"Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy" was officially released as a single in 1982. In 2019 a re-mastered version featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and the original vocals was released on the album "Bing at Christmas".
Of course I prefer the version we play on Q1057.
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