“Little Drummer Boy” finds Bing Crosby and David Bowie making an unlikely musical duo

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Nov. 30, 1977: The last Christmas show that Bing Crosby would star in, airs. The show is called “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Old Christmas.” The premise was that the singer was in England to visit distant relatives. To help with the musical portion of the show, David Bowie shows up to sing “Little Drummer Boy” with Crosby.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby: two musical geniuses

The video of the segment featuring Bowie singing with Crosby is quaint and interesting. Bowie’s hair is a natural light brown and is cut relatively short, almost like a shag of sorts. He appears fresh-faced and is wearing a cauliflower blue suit and lighter blue shirt. A delicate cross graces his neck on a matching gold necklace.

Crosby is still recognizable, despite his very long career. His cardigan mirrors the color of Bowie’s suit. He wears a contrasting yellow polo shirt beneath.  His hair is perfectly coiffed, and he looks somewhat like he did in “White Christmas” 25 years earlier.

The two men would come to be recognized for their contributions to arts and entertainment. Unfortunately, at the time of the show’s airing, Crosby had been deceased for weeks. Bowie was still enjoying a career that would continue to blossom. In 1977, rock fans would have vivid memories of Bowie’s stellar “Ziggy Stardust.” For his part, Crosby seems delighted to see the younger man. His discussion with Bowie at “Little Drummer Boy’s” conclusion is charming.

“Little Drummer Boy”: Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s holiday sound

Even though Bowie and Crosby came from different worlds in terms of musical genres, their voices meshed naturally. Crosby’s warm voice straddled the line between bass and baritone, while Bowie’s low tenor shifted through dynamics of wavering and straight. Their vocal nuances played well.

The song has a “Peace on Earth” portion that was created for the show and is not sung in popular renditions. Bowie sings the “Peace on Earth” part, and the way Crosby sings back-up during this section, the effect is both awe-inspiring and professional and touching.

The holidays are upon us again. It is with bittersweet nostalgia that fans of both Bowie and Crosby can watch their last performance together. Now that both Bowie and Crosby are gone, the video serves as a reminder of different things. One, just how long 40 years is, and two, that both men could really sing well. That both the talents are gone is sad, but what they have left their audiences is a catalog of masterworks.

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