Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 337
Wed, Dec 19, 2012

“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”
David Bowie & Bing Crosby


“♫ Peace
on Earth/
can it be/ can
it be

Are you feeling the holiday spirit, yet? Did you know the story behind one of the oddest parings in rock music history; David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s duet of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” was anything but harmonious. The idea for “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” duet was for Bowie to stop by Crosby’s house, during a skit on Bing’s Merrie Olde Christmas show, and David was to find’s some sheet music for “Little Drummer Boy” on Bing’s table and Bowie supposed to say, “This is my son’s favorite song” and then the duet would begin. If it ever was that easy on a Hollywood studio set, it wasn’t. According to Ian Fraser, one of the music supervisors on Bing’s show, David came in and said: “I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?” Fraser and his supervising partner Larry Grossman didn’t know what to do. They had to come up with an idea and fast because time was ticking, Bowie was here to sing with Crosby and they still didn’t have a song.

Bowie biographer, and writer of The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg picks up the story from there, when he wrote: “Fraser and Grossman left the set and found a piano in the basement room where together with the show’s scriptwriter Buz Kohan, they proceeded to write the original ‘Peace on Earth’ counter melody from scratch in a little than an hour.” Bowie and Crosby took the magic melody that Kohan, Fraser and Grossman had created moments before and nailed a perfect take. “We never expected to hear about it again.” Kohan once claimed after filming the historical duet with Crosby and Bowie.

Bowie himself admitted that he never got to meet “Bing Crosby” as he recounted to Pegg in The Complete David Bowie, when he said, “He was not there at all. He had been made up very heavily and there was just nobody at home at all, you know? It was a bizarre experience. I didn’t know anything about him. I just knew my mother liked him.”Thankfully David’s mother liked Crosby or else this magical duet would have never been conceived yet alone recorded. But regardless of the backstage chaos the end result became one of the glorious rock flavored Christmas carols of all- time.