This is one of my holiday classics I have to watch every year. Reportedly, Bing Crosby had no idea who this Bowie person was. It’s just such a wild juxtaposition, and their voices together glorious. It almost didn’t happen.
In 2014, Merrie Olde Christmas writers Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan remembered the circumstances behind the collaboration. The pitch was originally to have the pair duet on “Little Drummer Boy,” but Grossman told PBS that Bowie put his foot down.
“He said, ‘I won’t sing that song. I hate that song I’m doing this show because my mother loves Bing Crosby.’ ”
The writers found a solution: Craft a counter-melody that Bowie could sing while Crosby proceeded with “Little Drummer Boy.” “It all happened rather rapidly. I would say within an hour, we had it written and were able to present it him again,” Kohan explained to PBS. Bowie loved the resulting melody, called “Peace on Earth,” and the rest was history.
Bing Crosby’s children talked about the odd pairing, which took place a month before their father Bing, died. David Bowie wasn’t excited about it, but did it because his mother was such a huge fan of Crosby.
“The doors opened and David walked in with his wife. They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red,” she told the summer TV critics’ tour Wednesday. “We were thinking, `Oh my god.'”
Nathaniel Crosby added, “It almost didn’t happen. I think the producers told him to take the lipstick off and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”
Watching in the wings, the Crosby kids noticed a transformation.
“They sat at the piano and David was a little nervous,” Mary Crosby recalled. “Dad realized David was this amazing musician, and David realized Dad was an amazing musician. You could see them both collectively relax and then magic was made.”