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Friday, 4 December 2009

Bing Crosby and David Bowie - Peaceon Earth / Little Drummer Boy

'Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy' is a Christmas song with an added counterpoint performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

'Little Drummer Boy' is a traditional Christmas song written in 1957, while the 'Peace on Earth' tune and lyrics were added to the song especially for Bowie and Crosby's recording.

The track was originally recorded on 11th September 1977 for Crosby's 1977 television special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. The pair exchanged dialogue about what they do for Christmas before singing the traditional song, '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." Crosby would die just over a month after recording the special, which aired on 30th November 1977.

According to co-writer Ian Fraser, Bowie balked at singing 'Little Drummer Boy'. "I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?" Fraser recalls Bowie telling him. Fraser, along with songwriter Larry Grossman and the special's scriptwriter, Buz Kohan, then wrote 'Peace on Earth' as a counterpoint to 'Little Drummer Boy'. Crosby performed 'Little Drummer Boy', while Bowie sang the new tune 'Peace on Earth'.

The song was available for some years as a bootleg single backed with 'Heroes', which Bowie had also performed on the TV special. In 1982, RCA issued the recording as an official single, complete with the dialogue, arbitrarily placing 'Fantastic Voyage' from the Lodger album on the B-side. Bowie was unhappy with this move, which further soured his strained relationship with RCA, and he left the label soon after.

The single would climb to number 3 on the UK Singles chart, boosted by a 12" picture disc release, and has since become a perennial on British Christmas compilation albums, with the TV sequence also a regular on UK nostalgia shows.

Click the link below to download the following:
Full Length Version
Edited Version
Fantastic Voyage - B-Side


Bing Crosby and David Bowie - Little Drummer Boy - Video

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