According to co-writer Ian Fraser, Bowie balked at singing “Little Drummer Boy”: “I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?”, Fraser recalls Bowie telling him. Fraser, along with songwriter Larry Grossman and the special’s scriptwriter, Buz Kohan, then wrote “Peace on Earth” as a counterpoint to “Little Drummer Boy”. Crosby performed “Little Drummer Boy”, while Bowie sang the new tune “Peace on Earth”, which they reportedly performed after less than an hour of rehearsal.
Because it’s always worth listening to the Jim Nabors version.
PS: I found this interesting tidbit on Wikipedia:
An urban legend maintains that Nabors married Rock Hudson in the 1970s. In fact, the two were never more than friends. According to Hudson, the legend originated with a group of “middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach” who sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year, the group invited its members to witness “the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors,” at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors’ most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming “Rock Pyle.” Those who failed to get the joke spread the rumor. As a result, Nabors and Hudson were rarely, if ever, seen again in public with each other, out of fear that this would feed the false rumor.
“Mama, a Rainbow” from Minnie’s Boys (Original Broadway Cast)
music Larry Grossman lyric Hal Hackady
performance Daniel Fortus (with Shelley Winters)
Six years ago I had a meeting with Hal Prince. He told me to ask him anything I wanted, and I asked why he kept having Larry Grossman write musicals for him, considering his .000 batting average (I didn’t use the baseball metaphor at the time). He said he was a big fan of this song (from the flop Marx Brothers bio-musical Minnie’s Boys), which he thought was everything a showtune should be. And really, it is.