How Did David Bowie End Up Singing “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby?

It was September 1977.  Bowie and his buddy, Iggy Pop, had relocated to Berlin in an effort to clean up and sober up after years of cocaine and alcohol abuse (Bowie maintains he doesn’t remember a minute of 1976).  

Although he was in better shape, Bowie was still pretty messed up.  It would be several more years before he really managed to get his act together both personally and financially.

Yet there he was in an LA TV studio rum-pah-pum-pumming with the most famous crooner the world had ever seen.  How the hell did that happen?

Credit Buz Kohan, the writer and producer on that Bing Crosby Christmas special.  From a report by CBS Los Angeles:

“It was an odd couple, as they say. However, we all had high hopes that it would work out nicely,” Buz Kohan recalls.

And had it not been for Kohan, the two might never have been recorded.

“David, as you know, was at the time, Ziggy Stardust, which was a whole different audience that he was playing to at the time,” he said.

But he agreed to guest star on “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas” special.

Kohan, who wrote most of the dialogue, chose the song – “The Little Drummer Boy.”

“And I said, ‘We’d like you to do, Little Drummer Boy. We have a beautiful arrangement for you.’ He says, ‘I really don’t like that song,’” Kohan said.

“It almost didn’t happen… he was sort of adamant that he didn’t want to do that.”

Read the rest of the story here.  And you should know that Bing dropped dead on a golf course about a month before the Christmas special aired that year.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “How Did David Bowie End Up Singing “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby?

  • December 26, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Bowie is so hot in that video too. Love him.


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