Tag Archives: UK charts

➤ 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


➤ “Too posh for pop” — Grandpa Waterman condemns two decades of musicmakers

posh pop ,Florence Welch, Lily Allen, UK pop charts

Posh pop totty: Florence Welch and Lily Allen. Photos by Dave Hogan/Getty, and Icon/Rex

❚ HALF OF ALL PEOPLE WHO know who Pete Waterman is regard him as a genius. Or they did, until today’s outburst on BBC radio when he wrote off two decades of pop music. “It’s never been worse,” he harrumphed over breakfast on R4’s Today show, hinting at some insidious infection. His detractors have always condemned him as the schlock-meister who bulldozed the freshness of early 80s pop into oblivion by churning out some of the crassest tunes of the decade.

Waterman’s personal claim is to have created 22 UK number one singles, but the former apprentice electrician and club deejay is best-known as the founder of SAW, the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting and production hit factory that put 100 singles into the UK top 40 chart and sold 40m records in a formulaic mix of Hi-NRG and Eurobeat (think Rick Astley, Jason Donovan, Hazell Dean, Mel & Kim, not forgetting Kylie). Immediately before impresario Simon Cowell stepped fully formed from the egg, Waterman left no less of an imprint on the British music scene through a strategy that skilfully avoided overestimating public taste.

➢ Hear the extended Waterman interview:
“It’s a totally different industry today — it’s all about job protection. It’s not what music is about”

What detonated 64-year-old, father-of-four Waterman this morning was the Today show. For no obvious reason it exhumed a survey from last month’s issue of The Word music magazine which had generated newspaper headlines in December by calculating that 60 per cent of current chart pop and rock acts must be middle class because they went to what we Brits paradoxically term “public” schools (meaning posh fee-paying private schools), compared with 20 per cent ten years ago. On average, fewer than a tenth of Brits attend fee-paying schools.

Examples cited were Lily Allen who boarded at Bedales, Grammy nominee Florence Welch from Alleyn’s School, the Nu-Folkies Mumford & Sons from King’s College School, and the not exactly current Coldplay’s Chris Martin from Sherborne, and Radiohead all ex-Abingdon.

Pete Waterman, Today programme,posh pop, The Word,

Pete Waterman: “pop has become snobbish”. Photograph © by Andrew Crowley

Bah humbug. Light blue touchpaper and off Pete goes, whizz-bang. “This has been a gripe I’ve had for over 20 years, and particularly right now. It’s never been worse,” he blasted.

“The major companies dominate and they see a CV and if you haven’t got 96 O-levels you ain’t getting a job. When all the A&R people wear Jack Wills clothes [slogan: Fabulously British clothes for the university crowd”] it tells you where they’re going. It’s become snobbish. It’s become a snobbish culture.”

Click through to the iPlayer to hear Pete in full spate on Today today. What he’s lamenting really is an end to John Lennon’s Working Class Hero who made British pop great in the swinging 60s — because he’d known what it was to live a hard life. “You’ve got to have lived the life to have sung the life.” Despite his honorary doctorate in music from University College Chester, Dr Waterman OBE concludes: “There’s no university in the world, ever, that has given you a degree in a hit record.”

➢ Read Has pop become posh? — Today reporter Tom Bateman at BBC News online

➢ How pop went posh — Will Hodgkinson front-paged the topic on the arts section of The Times, August 13, 2010 … Adds the ex-Rugby Horrors to the list of public-school suspects, along with Foals (Abingdon). “One of the reasons all these bands are emerging is because public schools have such great facilities,” says old Etonian Tom Bridgewater, MD at Loose Music. The Times tenuously lists the “Top schools of rock” as Abingdon (Radiohead), Bedales (Patrick Wolf), Eton (James Blunt), Marlborough (Chris de Burgh — Is he the latest Marlborough can offer?), Westminster (Mika), plus the free state-funded city college, The Brit School in Croydon (Amy Winehouse).


❚ Pete Waterman made one of the most inspirational guests on Desert Island Discs in 1995 by expressing real erudition about his industry and popular culture. In a model lesson that was worthy of the Open University, he explained how pop music worked. And he identified the three best groups in music history who defined the essence of pop: The Beatles, The Beach Boys and, unexpectedly but rightly, Abba.