Davis claimed that the song was based upon a traditional Czech carol. However, that origin has never been identified.
The song was originally titled Carol of the Drum. Davis sometimes wrote her 600+ songs under the name C.R.W. Robinson.
The Trapp Family Singers recorded and released a version of the song in 1951. Their version of the song, released shortly before their retirement, brought a wider prominence to the song.
The song was renamed The Little Drummer Boy on Harry Simeone Christmas album in 1957. He recorded new versions of the song in 1964 and 1981.
In 1968, The Little Drummer Boy TV Special was made and released.
song starts at about 1:45