December 20

1970 Footage of “Little Drummer Boy” by Johnny Cash

1970 Footage of “Little Drummer Boy” by Johnny Cash 1

This footage featured everyone’s beloved man in black. The video was shot during the Christmas season in 1970. Country legend Johnny Cash was at the height of his career throughout the 60’s and 70’s. He even had his own televised variety show called The Johnny Cash Show. It was during part of the filming for this hour of TV that this footage was captured.

Johnny Cash can be seen singing outdoors beneath a bevy of wintery trees and surrounded by a small choir of children. His unique voice echoes across the field, bringing each note of “Little Drummer Boy” a deep and rich sound that we all are familiar with.

A very original take on this age-old classic Christmas song, Johnny Cash truly went all-out for his fans by reimagining this song with a different cadence and very personal style.

Watch this 1970s footage of Johnny Cash singing Christmas songs in the snow below and let us know what you think of his take on this classic.

Story Behind the Song

Originally titled “Carol of the Drum”, written by the American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. It was first recorded in 1951 by the Trapp Family Singers. The song was further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. The Simeone version was re-released successfully for several years and the song has been recorded many times since.

This song was published by Davis as based on a traditional Czech carol. Davis’ interest was in producing material for amateur and girls’ choirs. The Czech original of the carol has never been identified.

“Carol of the Drum” appealed to the Austrian Trapp Family Singers. They were the first to bring the song to wider prominence when they recorded it for Decca Records in 1955. Shortly before they retired, their version was credited solely to Davis and published by Belwin-Mills. In 1957 it was recorded, with a slightly altered arrangement, by the Jack Halloran Singers for their album Christmas Is A-Comin’ on Dot Records. Dot’s Henry Onorati introduced the song to his friend Harry Simeone and the following year, when 20th Century Fox Records contracted him to make a Christmas album, Simeone, making further small changes to the Halloran arrangement and retitling it “The Little Drummer Boy”, recorded it with the Harry Simeone Chorale on the album Sing We Now of Christmas. Simeone and Onorati claimed joint composition credits with Davis.


Christmas Songs, Johnny Cash, Little Drummer Boy, Man in Black

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