Top 10 “The Little Drummer Boy” Covers

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Written by composer Katherine Kennicott David in 1941, first recorded by The Trapp Family a decade later and first made popular by the Harry Someone Chorale by the late 1950s, “The Little Drummer Boy” has become a holiday classic in the past 70 years with artists performing the classic, and staying mostly faithful to its original form. Who can forget Bing Crosby inviting David Bowie to sing “The Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth,” on his TV Christmas special in 1977?

Kennicott David’s lyrics follow the story of a poor boy who play the drums as his gift offering— I played my best for him… He smiled at me after being asked to visit the baby Jesus in the nativity.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum 
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum 
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum 
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum, 
When we come.
 

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum 
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum 
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum 
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
 

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum, 
On my drum? 

Throughout the decades, everyone from Whitney Houston Johnny Cash and Stevie wonder to Frank Sinatra, The Dandy Warhols, Natalie Cole, Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond, Joan Jett, and even Iggy Pop have taken on the holiday classic.

Here, we take a look at 10 renditions of “The Little Drummer Boy worth a listen.

Pentatonix (2019)

The Flaming Lips (1994)

Iggy Pop (2011)

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (1981)

Stevie Wonder (1967)

Dolly Parton (1990)

Johnny Cash (1963)

Frank Sinatra (1964)

Neil Diamond (1993)

Bing Crosby and David Bowie (1977)

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