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 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 song was prerecorded on September 11th for Crosby’s 1977 television special, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas. The pair exchanged dialogue about what they do for Christmas before singing “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 normalize his career, but it was Bowie’s mother that can be thanked for this performance. She was a long-time fan of Bing Crosby and Bowie said he sang this for his mother.
Bing has always championed rock ‘n’ roll. He spoke well of Elvis in the ’50s while Sinatra said the music stunk. And now the Old Groaner has none other than David Bowie on what turned out to be Bing’s final Chrisrmas show. This video is even more bittersweet as now David is gone. This is a very special moment in time between two of music’s greats
The old pop and jazz guys did duets like this, but not today, and it is complicated. Bing sings the song straight. David does jazz, coming up with lyrics in the same feeling as the actual lyrics and song. It’s very complicated to do live or with many takes. This is an example of “professional show business” – the highest honor we can give any musical performance.