Band Aid (band)

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Band Aid
Also known as
  • Band Aid II (1989)
  • Band Aid 20 (2004)
  • Band Aid 30 (2014)
OriginLondon, United Kingdom
Genres Christmas
Years active
  • 1984
  • 1989
  • 2004
  • 2014

Band Aid were a charity supergroup featuring mainly British and Irish musicians and recording artists. [1] [2] [3] It was founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for the Christmas market that year. On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK on Monday 3 December. [4] [5] The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Three re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts, first the Band Aid II version in 1989 and the Band Aid 20 version in 2004 and finally the Band Aid 30 version in 2014. [6] The original was produced by Ure. The 12" version was mixed by Trevor Horn.



The supergroup was formed by Bob Geldof, who was then lead singer of the Irish band the Boomtown Rats. The BBC played a major role in capturing the poverty affecting Ethiopian citizens and thereby influenced Geldof to take action. Paula Yates, Bob Geldof's partner, is considered to have been the brains behind the original Band Aid. It was she who became the driving force that inspired (and helped) Geldof to rally the most famous pop stars of the 1980s to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. [7]

The group was composed of forty artists to raise awareness and funds for the Ethiopian famine in 1983–1985. The group's name stemmed from the idea that the musicians were providing aid to the less fortunate and suggested that their project was likened to putting a band-aid on a wound. Geldof was looking for support from all nations for Africa beginning in the United Kingdom. To do so, the artists recorded a hit single titled "Do They Know It's Christmas?" depicting the poverty-stricken African scenery of the time. Lyrics of the song included a description of the country saying, "where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow, do they know it's Christmas time at all?" Ethiopia follows the Orthodox calendar where Christmas is celebrated on the seventh of January; however, when the song was recorded (during the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia), the country had a Communist government and as such, religious festivals were not celebrated.

Original Band Aid

Chronology (1984)

Geldof was so moved by the plight of starving children in Ethiopia that he decided to try to raise money using his contacts in pop music. Geldof enlisted the help of Midge Ure, from the group Ultravox, to produce a charity record. Ure took Geldof's lyrics, and created the melody and backing track for the record. [8] Geldof called many of the most popular British and Irish performers of the time, persuading them to donate their time. His one criterion for selection was how famous they were, to maximise sales of the record. He then kept an appointment to appear on a show on BBC Radio 1, with Richard Skinner, but instead of promoting the new Boomtown Rats material as planned, he announced the plan for Band Aid. [9]

The recording studio gave Band Aid no more than 24 free hours to record and mix the record, on 25 November 1984. The recording took place at SARM Studios in Notting Hill between 11 am and 7 pm, and was filmed by director Nigel Dick to be released as the pop video though some basic tracks had been recorded the day before at Midge Ure's home studio. The first tracks to be recorded were the group / choir choruses which were filmed by the international press. The footage was rushed to newsrooms where it aired while the recording process continued. Later, drums by Phil Collins were recorded. The introduction of the song features a slowed-down sample from a Tears for Fears track called "The Hurting", released in 1983. Tony Hadley, of Spandau Ballet, was the first to record his vocal, while a section sung by Status Quo was deemed unusable, and replaced with section comprising Paul Weller, Sting, and Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17. Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran sang between contributions from George Michael and Sting. Paul Young has since admitted, in a documentary, that he knew his opening lines were written for David Bowie, who was not able to make the recording but made a contribution to the B-side (Bowie performed his lines at the Live Aid concert the following year). Boy George arrived last at 6 pm, after Geldof woke him up by phone to have him flown over from New York City on Concorde to record his solo part. (At the time, Culture Club were in the middle of a US tour.)

The following morning, Geldof appeared on the Radio 1 breakfast show with Mike Read, to promote the record further and promise that every penny would go to the cause. This led to a stand-off with the British Government, who refused to waive the VAT on the sales of the single. Geldof made the headlines by publicly standing up to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and, sensing the strength of public feeling, the government backed down and donated the tax back to the charity.

The record was released on 3 December 1984,[ citation needed ] and went straight to No. 1 in the UK singles chart, outselling all the other records in the chart put together. It became the fastest-selling single of all time in the UK, selling a million copies in the first week alone. It stayed at No. 1 for five weeks, selling over three million copies and becoming easily the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK, thus beating the seven-year record held by "Mull of Kintyre". It has since been surpassed by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" (his tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales) but it is likely to keep selling in different versions for many years to come. In 1986 the original music video from "Do They Know It's Christmas?" won Band Aid a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form.

After Live Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was re-released in late 1985 in a set that included a special-edition 'picture disc' version, modelled after the Live Aid logo with 'Band' in place of 'Live'. An added bonus, "One Year On" (a statement from Geldof and Ure on the telephone) was available as a B-side. A transcript of "One Year On" can be found in a booklet which was included in the DVD set of Live Aid, the first disc of which features the BBC news report, as well as the Band Aid video.

Live Aid inspired a number of charity events, such as Media Aid, which raised money for Save the Children.

1984 performers


The hit single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was highly successful worldwide. It sold over two million copies around the globe and raised more than $24 million (USD). The super group's success was seen as a large increase in Celebrity Diplomacy and inspired similar actions of support from countries such as Canada, France, Spain and the United States. The success influenced two organisations of live benefit concerts run by Celebrity Charity. The concerts were USA for Africa and Live Aid and were broadcast in over 160 countries. Band Aid and Live Aid combined raised about $150 million (USD) for the famine relief effort in Ethiopia.

Band Aid II

This version, released in 1989, was produced by a British songwriting and production team formed by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman known as Stock Aitken Waterman. The only artists from the original Band Aid to be featured again on this version were Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward of Bananarama. This version topped the UK Singles Chart for three weeks.


On Friday 1 December 1989, Bob Geldof called Pete Waterman to ask if he would consider producing a new version of the song featuring the big stars from that time. Waterman immediately postponed his wedding [10] and began calling up the artists. With just two days' notice, on Sunday 3 December, recording took place at PWL Studios in South London. Present in the studio was Bob Geldof, wife Paula Yates and six-year-old daughter Fifi Trixiebelle, who was eager to meet Jason Donovan.

Production continued through the Monday, and by Tuesday 5 December the song was broadcast for the first time on London's Capital Radio. Advance sales of the record reached 500,000. The song was released the following week on 11 December and spent three weeks at number one, becoming the ninth biggest-selling song of the year.

1989 performers

Band Aid 20

Band Aid 20 was the 2004 incarnation of the charity group Band Aid. The group, which included Daniel Bedingfield, Justin Hawkins of the Darkness, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Bono of U2, and Paul McCartney, re-recorded "Do They Know It's Christmas?". The song reached No. 1 on 6 November 2004, spent four weeks at that position and became the biggest-selling single of 2004.

2004 performers

Band Aid 30

Band Aid 30 was the 2014 incarnation of the charity supergroup Band Aid. Announced by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, the aim was to aid 2014 Ebola outbreak victims in Western Africa and preventing its spread. As in previous incarnations, the group covered the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?", written in 1984 by Geldof and Ure. The song was recorded by some of the biggest-selling current British and Irish pop acts, including One Direction, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Ellie Goulding Rita Ora and Bastille, along with Chris Martin (Coldplay) and Bono (U2)—the third time he contributed to a Band Aid recording. [11]

Their version of the song debuted at the chart's summit during the week of its release, then dropped down a place in each of the following two weeks before dropping out of the Top 10 in its fourth week. It also received a polarised reception from many music critics due to its new lyric directed towards Africa.

Also, for the first time, a German version was produced and reached the top position of the German single charts at the beginning of December 2014. The project is led by Geldof's close friend Campino, lead vocalist of the punk rock band Die Toten Hosen. A French version of the song is led by Carla Bruni. [12]

2014 performers

The Band Aid project inspired other charity records around the world, including "We Are the World" by USA for Africa in the United States, "Tears Are Not Enough" by Northern Lights in Canada, and many others.

A compilation of computer games for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum was published under the name Soft Aid. Each platform had its own selection of games from ten different publishers; Elite Systems, Ocean Software, Quicksilva, and Virgin were represented on both. The cassette also featured a recording of the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" single. [13] [14]

Band Aid Liverpool

In December 2020, a group of musicians from Liverpool recorded a version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" as a charity record in support of Shelter. Retitled "Do They Know It's Christmas (Feed the World)" with lyrics referring to places on Merseyside, the project was given the go-ahead by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to release their cover version on 10 December 2020. Band Aid Liverpool features about 70 musicians/personalities from Liverpool, including Asa Murphy from BBC Radio Merseyside, [15] five-piece band the Hummingbirds and project originator Tony Cook, from tribute band the Mersey Beatles. [16]

Criticism and controversies

Claims of self-righteousness

In 1986, the anarchist band Chumbawamba released the album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records , as well as an EP entitled "We Are the World", jointly recorded with US band A State of Mind, both of which were intended as anti-capitalist critiques of the Band Aid/Live Aid phenomenon. [17] They argued that the record was primarily a cosmetic spectacle, designed to draw attention away from the real political causes of world hunger.[ citation needed ]

In a 1985 Time Out interview, Morrissey (who was not invited to participate in Band Aid) gave his views about the song:

'I'm not afraid to say that I think Band Aid was diabolical. Or to say that I think Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Many people find that very unsettling, but I'll say it as loud as anyone wants me to. In the first instance the record itself was absolutely tuneless. One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it's another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of Great Britain. It was an awful record considering the mass of talent involved. And it wasn't done shyly. It was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music.' [18]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Live Aid</span> 1985 benefit concert

Live Aid was a multi-venue benefit concert held on Saturday 13 July 1985, as well as a music-based fundraising initiative. The original event was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise further funds for relief of the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia, a movement that started with the release of the successful charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in December 1984. Billed as the "global jukebox", Live Aid was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London, attended by about 72,000 people, and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, attended by 89,484 people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia</span> Famine in Ethiopia during the Derg rule

A widespread famine affected Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. The worst famine to hit the country in a century, it affected 7.75 million people and left approximately 300,000 to 1.2 million dead. 2.5 million people were internally displaced whereas 400,000 refugees left Ethiopia. Almost 200,000 children were orphaned.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bob Geldof</span> Irish singer-songwriter and political activist (born 1951)

Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof is an Irish singer-songwriter, and political activist. He rose to prominence in the late 1970s as lead singer of the Irish rock band the Boomtown Rats, who achieved popularity as part of the punk rock movement. The band had UK number one hits with his compositions "Rat Trap" and "I Don't Like Mondays". Geldof starred as "Pink" in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall. As a fundraiser, Geldof organised the charity supergroup Band Aid and the concerts Live Aid and Live 8, and co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", one of the best-selling singles of all time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Midge Ure</span> Scottish musician (born 1953)

James Ure is a Scottish musician, singer-songwriter and record producer. His stage name, Midge, is a phonetic reversal of Jim, the diminutive form of his actual name. Ure enjoyed particular success in the 1970s and 1980s in bands including Slik, Thin Lizzy, Rich Kids and Visage, and as the frontman of Ultravox. In 1984, he co-wrote and produced the charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which has sold 3.7 million copies in the UK. The song is the second highest-selling single in UK chart history. Ure co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. He acts as a trustee for the charity and also serves as an ambassador for Save the Children.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">We Are the World</span> 1985 charity single by USA for Africa

"We Are the World" is a charity single originally recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is the eighth-bestselling physical single of all time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Do They Know It's Christmas?</span> 1984 charity song by Band Aid

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a charity song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded by Band Aid, a supergroup assembled by Geldof and Ure consisting of popular British and Irish musical acts at the time. It was recorded in a single day at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, in November 1984.

Band Aid 20 was the 2004 incarnation of the charity supergroup Band Aid. The group, which included Daniel Bedingfield, Dido, Justin Hawkins of The Darkness, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Bono of U2, and Paul McCartney, re-recorded the 1984 song "Do They Know It's Christmas?", written by Band Aid organisers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Live 8</span> International series of benefit concerts prior to the G8 summit in 2005

Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa. They were timed to precede the G8 conference and summit held at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland, from 6–8 July 2005. Both events also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid. Run in support of the aims of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, ten simultaneous concerts were held on 2 July and one on 6 July. On 7 July, the G8 leaders pledged to double 2004 levels of aid to poor nations from US$25 billion to US$50 billion by 2010. Half of the money was to go to Africa. More than 1,000 musicians performed at the concerts, which were broadcast on 182 television networks and 2,000 radio networks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rolf Løvland</span> Musical artist

Rolf Undsæt Løvland is a Norwegian composer, lyricist, arranger, and pianist. Together with Fionnuala Sherry, he formed the Celtic-Nordic group Secret Garden, in which he was the composer, producer, and keyboardist. He began composing at an early age and grew up studying at the Kristiansand Music Conservatory, later receiving his master's degree from the Norwegian Institute of Music in Oslo.

The Atrix were an Irish new wave/power pop band formed in mid 1978 by John Borrowman (guitar/vocals) and Chris Green (keyboards), both ex Berlin. Alan Finney on bass and drummer Hugh Friel, ex Slow Motion Orchestra. This lineup made the first demo recording and appeared at the Carnsore Point Anti-Nuclear Rally in 1978. Finney was later replaced by Dick Conroy on bass.

This is a summary of 1985 in music in the United Kingdom, including the official charts from that year.

This is a summary of 1984 in music in the United Kingdom, including the official charts from that year.

Oz for Africa was an Australian concert held on 13 July 1985 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. It was organised by Bill Gordon who also organised the EAT Concert held at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne at the end of January 1985. That event was televised nationally on Channel Nine. Over $1million was raised in the accompanying telethon. Gordon organised for all proceeds to go to the Red Cross. During the 10 hour event live satellite hook ups between Melbourne London and Los Angeles included interviews with Geldof and many of the stars of the hit songs "We Are the World" & "Feed the World". The Oz for Africa concert was broadcast locally and internationally as part of the worldwide Live Aid performances to raise money for famine relief in Africa. The concert featured 17 bands performing some of their best-known songs. All groups donated their services and the concert helped raise $10 million throughout Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Do You Believe in Miracles</span> 1985 single by Slade

"Do You Believe in Miracles" is a song by the British rock band Slade, released in 1985 as a single which was included on the band's studio/compilation album Crackers: The Christmas Party Album. It was written by lead vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, and produced by John Punter. It reached No. 54 in the UK, remaining in the charts for six weeks.

Stuart Robert Bruce is an English recording engineer. He was the engineer for the recording of the Band Aid's charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" on 25 November 1984. He was born in Northolt, Middlesex.

When Harvey Met Bob is a 2010 television film, written by Joe Dunlop, dramatising the relationship between musician Bob Geldof and concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith as they organize the massive fundraising concert Live Aid in 1985. Directed by Nicholas Renton, the film stars Domhnall Gleeson as Geldof and Ian Hart as Goldsmith.

Band Aid 30 is the 2014 incarnation of the charity supergroup Band Aid. The group was announced on 10 November 2014 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, with Geldof stating that he took the step after the United Nations had contacted him, saying help was urgently needed to prevent the 2014 Ebola crisis in Western Africa spreading throughout the world. As in previous incarnations, the group covered the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?", written in 1984 by Geldof and Ure, this time to raise money towards the Ebola crisis in Western Africa. The track re-tweaked lyrics to reflect the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, and all proceeds went towards battling what Geldof described as a "particularly pernicious illness because it renders humans untouchable and that is sickening".


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