Tag Archives: Live Aid

➤ Do they know? How modest Midge wrote the biggest selling pop single of his generation

Do They Know It’s Christmas?, Band Aid, Live Aid, Midge Ure, Bob Geldof, 1984,pop music, UK charts,

Pop artist Peter Blake’s Band Aid sleeve… The original vinyl can be yours today for £6.99, US$11.25, €8.60 at eil.com

◼ 1.1 BILLION VIEWS FOR GANGNAM STYLE at YouTube!!! Merry Christmas, pop pickers. Now spare a few minutes to listen to the original demo of the tune that in its day became the biggest selling UK single of all time. In 1984 was at No 1 in the pop charts.

Midge Ure: recording the Band Aid single, here with Paul Young and Tony Hadley © 1984 Mercury Records

Midge Ure: recording the Band Aid single, here with Paul Young and Tony Hadley (© 1984 Mercury Records)

It was recorded under the artist name of Band Aid by a megagroup recruited from 47 of the biggest hitters in British rock and pop. It raised huge funds for famine relief in Africa and a year later led to Live Aid, the biggest global rock concert ever, viewed by two billion people in 60 countries, who coughed up still more dollars. Live Aid is said to have raised £150m (about £400m or US$650m at today’s prices).

The idea for Band Aid was proposed by one down-on-his-luck musician, Irishman Bob Geldof, who had been moved by a horrifying BBC TV news report on the famine in Ethiopia. The project sprang out of a telephone call with Midge Ure of Ultravox when he was appearing on The Tube, the weekly pop TV show broadcast from Newcastle. The song was written and produced in a flash by Scotsman Midge, who has emerged as one of the most genuinely multi-talented shapers of the 80s.


Do They Know It’s Christmas?, Midge Ure, Bob Geldof, Band Aid, Record Mirror, cuttings
❏ The Band Aid single became the fastest seller of all time in its first week of release, ironically keeping one of its participants, George Michael and his band Wham! off the coveted No 1 spot in the Christmas singles chart, which would have been their third No 1 in a row. Bob Geldof, mover and shaker behind the charity project, told Record Mirror in the December 1984 page shown here: “It’s NOT a Geldof plot to get back in the limelight as some people are claiming. It allowed people who understandably felt a sense of impotence about Ethiopia to express their support.” DTKIC endured as the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK for 13 years, until it was overtaken in 1997 by Elton John’s Candle in the Wind, released following the death of Princess Diana.




➢ 1984, Band Aid, when pop made its noblest gesture but the 80s ceased to swing

➢ 2001, Hear about the many lives of Midge Ure, the Mr Nice of pop

➢ Midge Ure and Gary Kemp lift the lid on the shenanigans that led up to Band Aid


1984 ➤ Band Aid, when pop made its noblest gesture but the 80s ceased to swing

Band Aid , Do They Know It’s Christmas?

The Band Aid band, Nov 25, 1984: most of the pop stars who performed, plus artist Peter Blake who created the record sleeve for Do They Know It’s Christmas?

◼︎ TODAY WAS THE DAY IN 1984 THEY RECORDED the song that became, for 13 years, the biggest selling UK single of all time. Do They Know It’s Christmas was released four days later, stayed at No 1 for five weeks, sold over three million copies and raised significant funds for famine relief in Africa. The project lead naturally the next year to Live Aid, the biggest globally televised rock concerts ever, viewed by two billion people in 60 countries, who coughed up still more dollars. It is estimated that Live Aid raised £150m (about $283m). Last year a poll of 5,000 people, who were surveyed across Europe, named Live Aid as the most important music event of the past 30 years. The hit single sold for £1.35, of which 96 pence went to the fund. Rerecordings of the song charted again in 1985 and 1989.

The idea for Band Aid was proposed by one man, Bob Geldof, since granted an honorary knighthood but in 1984 a musician down on his luck, who enlisted the much more successful go-getter, Ultravox’s Midge Ure (who remains unknighted for no good reason), to bring the dream to fruition as its producer. They created a megagroup from 45 of the biggest hitters in British music, who included the supergroups dominating world charts at the time — Culture Club, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham! — plus AOR giants Sting, Genesis and U2, plus Kool and the Gang from the States. In a sea of mullets and bleached highlights, rival musicians united under the name Band Aid in a daring act of charity that was unprecedented in the competitive commercial arena.

Band Aid,Bob Geldof ,Midge Ure,SARM

Leaders of the Band Aid pack in 1984: Bob Geldof and Midge Ure outside SARM Studios in London. © Pictorial Press

The enterprise marked the end of an era, as this website documents. The Band Aid collaboration signalled the final chapter of the innovation which Shapersofthe80s believes defined the Swinging 80s as six dynamic years of subcultural initiative between 1978 and 1984. Britain’s visual kaleidoscope of cults was exactly what fed MTV from its launch in 1982 and loosened the stranglehold that music radio had previously enjoyed in the USA. The unlikely Band Aid scrum of Britain’s rival image bands who had risen on the same new wave  substantially defined a new show-business elite who had come to epitomise mainstream tastes.

 Michael Buerk , Ethiopia

Michael Buerk in his BBC report from Ethiopia

Nobody can doubt the uniqueness of the pop fraternity’s gasp of altruism through Band Aid. Geldof had been genuinely distressed by the now landmark teatime TV report broadcast on October 23, 1984, by Michael Buerk, a popular BBC journalist. It still makes for grim viewing. In Ethiopia 7m people were threatened by famine, and 40,000 refugees had converged on the town of Korem in the hope of finding food and medical aid.

The film footage shocked the world and Buerk’s opening words still resonate today: “Dawn, and as the sun breaks through the piercing chill of night on the plain outside Korem, it lights up a Biblical famine, now, in the 20th century. This place, say workers here, is the closest thing to hell on earth…”


Morrissey, 1985 — “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 England. 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.”

The World Development Movement described the Band Aid lyrics in 2004 as “patronising, false and out of date” and regretted it did not “provide a more accurate reflection of Africa and its problems”.

❏ IN THEIR RESPECTIVE AUTOBIOGRAPHIES, Ultravox’s Midge Ure and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp provide entertaining and detailed accounts of the Band Aid venture, spiced with the frankness that comes from hindsight . . .

➢ Ure and Kemp on the shenanigans
that led up to Band Aid