|"Little Drummer Boy" is based on a Czech carol "Carol of the Drum." Harry Simeone, Katherine K. Davis, and Henry Onorati are credited with writing "Little Drummer Boy" in 1957.
On November 30, 1977, shortly after Bing Crosby died, his "Bing Crosby's 42nd Annual Christmas Special" aired. In one segment, Crosby and David Bowie sing Little Drummer Boy. Before the song they discuss music and musicians:
David Bowie: Do you eh... do you like modern music?
Bing Crosby: Oh, I think it's marvellous! Some of it's really fine. But tell me, have you ever listened to any of the older fellows?
DB: Oh yeah, sure. I like ah... John Lennon and the other one with ... eh... Harry Nilsson.
BC: Mmm... you go back that far, uh?
DB: Yeah, I'm not as young as I look.
The segment was filmed September 11, 1977. Bing Crosby was in London on a concert tour and filming segments for his Christmas special. Crosby suggested that he perform a duet with a young guest star and Bowie jumped at the chance to sing with Crosby. Bowie felt that "Little Drummer Boy" did not showcase his voice very well, so "Peace On Earth" was added to create a medley.
After a short rehearsal, the duet was completed in three takes. A few days later, Crosby told an interviewer that Bowie is "a clean cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice, and reads lines well. He could be a good actor if he wanted."
In its June 5, 1999, issue, TV Guide listed Bing and Bowie's duet as one of the 25 best musical television moments of the century.
An enhanced CD which includes audio tracks of David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing "Little Drummer Boy" plus a video (playable on your PC) of the duo performing "Little Drummer Boy" is available from Amazon.com.