Band Aid: It's Christmas Time!

A gathering of some of the most iconic singers and musicians of all time heralded the start of the Band Aid phenomenon in 1984 - raising millions of pounds for charity over the years. Band Aid's Feed the World charity record raised an amazing £8 million in one year to help feed the starving population of Ethiopia.

Band Aid was the brainchild of Boomtown Rats' singer Bob Geldof and his wife, the late Paula Yates, who were distraught after watching BBC news reporter Michael Buerk's report on the horrific famine in Ethiopia, which he called "hell on Earth".

Band Aid launch

Geldof realised he couldn't sit back and do nothing while the massive humanitarian crisis claimed thousands of innocent lives. He engineered a meeting with his old friend, Midge Ure, lead singer with the electronic band Ultravox, to launch a fundraising appeal.

Ultravox was playing live on the Channel 4 music show, The Tube, presented by Yates. During the show, Geldof rang Ure backstage and put the idea of Band Aid to him. They met in person on 5th November 1984 and further developed the idea of bringing together the world's top artists to record the charity record.

In a very short time, many stars had been recruited to record Feed the World (Do They Know It's Christmas?) at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, which was donated free of charge for the duration of the recording and mixing.

Participating artists

Other artists quickly accepted the invitation to sing on the ground-breaking record, including leading '80s bands Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Status Quo, Heaven 17, Kool and the Gang, Bananarama, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Culture Club and the Boomtown Rats. Some of the top vocalists of the era also offered their services, including Bono, Midge Ure, Phil Collins, Boy George, Sting, Paul Young and George Michael.

It was no mean feat getting the huge, star-studded cast together to record Feed the World (Do They Know It's Christmas?).

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A gathering of some of the most iconic singers and musicians of all time heralded the start of the Band Aid phenomenon in 1984 - raising millions of pounds for charity over the years. Band Aid's Feed the World charity record raised an amazing £8 million in one year to help feed the starving population of Ethiopia.

Band Aid was the brainchild of Boomtown Rats' singer Bob Geldof and his wife, the late Paula Yates, who were distraught after watching BBC news reporter Michael Buerk's report on the horrific famine in Ethiopia, which he called "hell on Earth".

Band Aid launch

Geldof realised he couldn't sit back and do nothing while the massive humanitarian crisis claimed thousands of innocent lives. He engineered a meeting with his old friend, Midge Ure, lead singer with the electronic band Ultravox, to launch a fundraising appeal.

Ultravox was playing live on the Channel 4 music show, The Tube, presented by Yates. During the show, Geldof rang Ure backstage and put the idea of Band Aid to him. They met in person on 5th November 1984 and further developed the idea of bringing together the world's top artists to record the charity record.

In a very short time, many stars had been recruited to record Feed the World (Do They Know It's Christmas?) at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, which was donated free of charge for the duration of the recording and mixing.

Participating artists

Other artists quickly accepted the invitation to sing on the ground-breaking record, including leading '80s bands Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Status Quo, Heaven 17, Kool and the Gang, Bananarama, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Culture Club and the Boomtown Rats. Some of the top vocalists of the era also offered their services, including Bono, Midge Ure, Phil Collins, Boy George, Sting, Paul Young and George Michael.

It was no mean feat getting the huge, star-studded cast together to record Feed the World (Do They Know It's Christmas?).

Co-written by Geldof and Ure, the festive song was overseen by the most in-demand producer of the '80s, Trevor Horn, who also gave his services free of charge to produce one of the biggest Christmas number one singles in history.

Multi-million seller

Following its release on 3rd December 1984, one million copies were sold in the first week. It had sold more than three million copies by the end of the year and was number one over Christmas in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Geldof's original goal of raising £70,000 for aid to Ethiopia was surpassed multiple times when the song raised £8 million!

It spurred other artists across the world to record similar charity singles for Ethiopia, such as the American song, We Are the World. There was also a fundraising Live Aid concert in July 1985, when David Bowie joined the collaboration, singing Heroes.

Band Aid in the 21st century

Following two further recordings of Do They Know It's Christmas (in 1989 and 2004) in aid of Ethiopian famine relief, it was recorded again in 2014, marking the 30th anniversary of the original recording. This time, it raised money to combat the West African Ebola crisis.

The recording of Band Aid 30's Do They Know It’s Christmas in 2014 was again organised by the project's founders, Geldof and Ure. A new generation of award-winning, chart-topping artists sang on the single.

The line-up again included Bono, with Paul Epworth (who has worked with Adele and Rihanna) producing the single. Queen's Roger Taylor played the drums and Clean Bandit's Milan Neil Amin-Smith and Grace Chatto played violin and cello respectively.

Lining up to share the vocals were Paloma Faith, Clean Bandit, Ellie Goulding, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Sinéad O'Connor, boy band One Direction, Olly Murs, Rita Ora, Emeli Sandé, Ed Sheeran and Seal, to name but a few. Welsh electronic music group Underworld also provided a remix of the song.

As with the original version, the iconic lyrics, "It's Christmas time!" heralded the song, but rather than the rest of the lyrics relating to the Ethiopian famine, they had been changed to address the Ebola crisis in western Africa.

The single went to number one in the UK chart immediately in November 2014 and also charted in France, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain, selling 312,000 copies in the UK in its first week. In total, it raised $1.5 million to help the victims of Ebola.

There were also French and German versions released to boost the fundraising, with Carla Bruni leading the French effort and Campino, lead vocalist of Dusseldorf punk band Die Toten Hosen, leading the German version.

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