Little Drummer Boy

"The Little Drummer Boy" is a popular Christmas song, with words and music by Katherine K. Davis. Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone have been credited with writing the song, even though they were only the arrangers for their recordings of it. The best-known and most standard version is by the Harry Simeone Chorale. It is also known as the "Carol of the Drum".

Davis first composed the words and music for "Carol of the Drum" (ostensibly transcribed from a traditional Czech carol) in 1941. [ [ Music You (Possibly) Won't Hear Anyplace Else: Carol of the Little Drummer Boy ] ] In 1957 Onorati arranged the song for a recording by the Jack Halloran Singers on Dot Records. The following year Simeone re-arranged the song yet again and retitled it for his Chorale's hit single version, which was issued on 20th Fox Records' 45-121 with a 45rpm picture sleeve, then on their LP called "Sing We Now of Christmas", which became an enormous bestseller. In 1963 the company, now known as 20th Century Fox Records, retitled and reissued their album. It was now called "The Little Drummer Boy: A Christmas Festival", in order to boost sales even higher, as the 45-rpm single had continued to be a seasonal hit. The album was first issued only in mono, then in stereo a year later. Harry Simeone signed to Kapp Records in 1964 and recorded a new version of "The Little Drummer Boy" in 1965 on Kapp K-711 with a 45rpm picture sleeve. This version came from his new album "O' Bambino-The Little Drummer Boy" [Kapp 1450(mono) / 3450(stereo)] .


The lyrics tell the apocryphal story of a poor young boy who, unable to afford a gift for the infant Jesus, plays his drum for the newborn with the Virgin Mary's approval. Miraculously, the baby, although a newborn, seems to understand and smiles at the boy in gratitude. The story is somewhat similar to an old twelfth-century legend retold by Anatole France as "Le jongleur de Notre-Dame" (The Juggler of Notre Dame), which was adapted into an opera in 1902 by Jules Massenet. In the French legend, however, a juggler juggles before the statue of the Virgin Mary.

Television special

In 1968, Rankin-Bass produced a stop motion animated Christmas television special based on the original story. The film names the drummer boy Aaron and expands the song's storyline to include events before the birth of Jesus. It stars the voices of Greer Garson as "Our Storyteller" and Jose Ferrer as Ben Haramad; it also features the Vienna Boys' Choir singing the title song. It aired for many years on NBC (under original sponsorship of the American Gas Association (AGA)) before entering syndication. It currently airs in the U.S. on the ABC Family cable channel.

A television sequel, titled "The Little Drummer Boy, Book II", premiered in 1976, also on NBC, again sponsored by the AGA, again narrated by Greer Garson, and also currently airing on ABC Family. This time the sequel co-starred Zero Mostel as the voice of Ben Haramad. NBC stopped airing the program after many complaints of Anti-Arabism.Fact|date=December 2007

Boney M. version

Infobox Single
Name = Little Drummer Boy" / "6 Years of Boney M. Hits

Artist = Boney M.
from Album = Christmas Album
Released = November 1981
Format = 7" single, 12" single
Recorded = 1981
Genre = Pop, Disco
Label = Hansa Records (FRG)
Producer = Frank Farian
Last single = "We Kill the World / Boonoonoonoos"
This single = "Little Drummer Boy / 6 Years of Boney M. Hits"
Next single = "The Carnival Is Over / Going Back West"
(1982)Extra album cover
Upper caption = Alternate cover
Background = khaki

Lower caption = "6 Years of Boney M. Hits" 12" single, Germany 1981.

"Little Drummer Boy" / "6 Years of Boney M. Hits (Boney M. on 45)" is a single by German band Boney M., taken off their 1981 album "Christmas Album". "Little Drummer Boy" - the last song to feature dancer Bobby Farrell - peaked at #20 in the German charts. The B-side, a Stars on 45 type medley of Boney M. hits was flipped as the A-side January 1982 and became a Spanish Top 10 hit single. While "Little Drummer Boy" was only released as a single in Germany, Canada and Scandinavia. Lead Vocal: Liz Mitchell. Backing Vocals: Jerry Rix, The London Christmas Choir.


7" Singles
*"Little Drummer Boy" - 4:27 / "6 Years of Boney M. Hits" - 4:48(Hansa 103 777-100, Germany)
*"Little Drummer Boy" / "Little Drummer Boy" (Hansa 103 838-000, Promo-only, Germany)

Variations and covers

* The Trapp Family Singers, whose life story provided some inspiration for Rodgers and Hammerstein in their musical "The Sound of Music", recorded a song entitled "Carol of the Drum", identified on the Decca record jacket as a "Czech carol", prior to their 1955 retirement. This song has the same melody as "The Little Drummer Boy", and the text is the same as that given in the main article except for the line "The ox and lamb kept time". The TFS recording has "The ox and ass kept time", instead.
* The Harry Simeone recording rose to #13 on the pop charts in 1958, despite its late issue date in November. Jim Jensen and John Cahill of KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made it their pick-of-the-week as soon as they heard it, becoming the first deejays in this country to promote the recording as a pop hit.

The song has been covered by many other choral groups and easy listening orchestras as well, such as Percy Faith's orchestra, and light classical orchestras such as the Boston Pops.

* Marlene Dietrich recorded a German version of the song ("Der Trommelmann") in 1964.
* One of the most popular versions of this song is the "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" duet by the unusual pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. The duet was recorded in 1977 for a Crosby Christmas special and reappears annually in holiday music rotations.
* The Dandy Warhols recorded two versions of the song. The first was released in 1994 on Tim/Kerr Records. The second version was released by Capitol Records in 1997.
* Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band covered this song in 1977.
* A cover of this song by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts concluded the album "I Love Rock N' Roll" when it was released in December 1981. However, after the holiday season passed, the track was replaced by another song.
* The song has been adapted into an Icelandic version called Litli Trommuleikarinn.
* A segment in a Christmas episode of Animaniacs had an interpretation of "The Little Drummer Boy" featuring the Warner Brothers and Sister; Wakko turns out to be the Drummer Boy.
* The alternative rock band, Jars of Clay has recorded the song twice; once on their EP "Drummer Boy," and the second time on their full length "Christmas Songs".
* Alicia Keys released a version entitled "Little Drummer Girl", which substantially modified the song's lyrics and music, before her label change and subsequent breakthrough hit "Fallin'".
* In 2004 Art Paul Schlosser released a version of the song called "Kazoo Boy" on his album "The ABCs of Art Paul Schlosser World". Schlosser's version uses Kazoo instead drum on the "rum pum pum pum" parts.
* Celtic Woman did a version of the song in their Christmas show, in a duet with Orla Fallon and Chloe Agnew. The version included a choir and a real drummer.
* Vince Guaraldi did a jazz piano arrangement titled "My Little Drum", for his soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas".
* Parody versions include "The Little Hooters Girl" (by Bob Rivers) and "Rub-a-Dum-Dum" (by The Boys, recording as "The Yobs").
* Whitney Houston and her daughter did a cover of the song "Little Drummer boy" on Houston's album

Jack Halloran's daughter, Dawn Halloran Charouhas, has disputed Harry Simeone's co-authorship credit for the song. [ [ "Mr. Music" ] ]

The song was reportedly the favorite Christmas carol of President Richard Nixon. It was featured on the television special Christmas at the White House in 1972.

External links


* [ Little Drummer Boy Lyrics]
* [ Little Drummer Boy Lyrics]
* [ Lead sheet and Spanish lyrics]

Television Special

* ["The Little Drummer Boy"] at Keyframe - the Animation Resource


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