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Band Aid was a Britishmarker and Irishmarker charity supergroup, founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopiamarker by releasing the record "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for the Christmas market that year. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Two subsequent re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts. The original was produced by Midge Ure. The 12" version was mixed by Trevor Horn.


The name 'Band Aid' was chosen as a pun on the name of a well known brand of adhesive bandage, also referring to musicians working as a band to provide aid and alluding to the fact that any help stemming from their efforts is likened to a band-aid on a very serious wound.

The group has formed on three occasions, each time from the most successful British and Irish pop music performers of the time, to record the same song at the same time of year.

Original Band Aid

Chronology (1984)

The original 1984 Feed The World logo was based on a pencil sketch by Bob Geldof after watching a BBC television news report by Michael Buerk from famine-stricken Ethiopia. Geldof was so moved by the plight of starving children that he decided to try and raise money using his contacts in pop music.

Geldof enlisted the help of Midge Ure, from the group Ultravox, to help produce a charity record. Ure took Geldof's lyrics, and created the melody and backing track for the record. Geldof called many of the most popular British and Irish performers of the time (Kool & The Gang and Jody Watley were the only Americans present at the original recording), persuading them to give their time free. His one criterion for selection was how famous they were, in order 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.

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 Hillmarker between 11am and 7pm, 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 remainder of the recording process continued. Later drums by Phil Collins were recorded, including the memorable opening 'African Drum' beat. But in reality, 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. 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 6pm, after Geldof woke him up by 'phone to have him flown over from New Yorkmarker on Concorde to record his solo part. (At the time, Culture Club was 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 November 29, 1984, 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. 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.

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, modeled 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. "One Year On" can also be found in transcript form 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.


The original Band Aid ensemble consisted of (in sleeve order): The sleeve artist, Peter Blake, was also credited on the sleeve.

Band Aid II

This version, released in 1989 was produced by British songwriting and production team formed of 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, but ultimately achieved far less historical significance and status than its predecessor.


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 cancelled his wedding (planned for that very day) 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 aired for the first time on London's Capital Radio. Advance sales of the record reached 500,000 and a number-one was inevitable. The song was released the following week on 11 December and spent three weeks at number one, becoming the 9th biggest selling song of the year, outselling Madonna's "Like a Prayer".


The line up for the Band Aid II project consisted of (in alphabetical order):

Band Aid 20

The Band Aid 20 single was first played simultaneously on the The Chris Moyles Show (on BBC Radio 1) and the breakfast shows on Virgin and Capital radio, at 8am on 16 November, 2004. The video was first broadcast in the UK simultaneously over multiple channels, including the five UK terrestrial channels, at 5.55pm on 18 November, 2004, with an introduction by Madonna.

British artist Damien Hirst designed an intimidating cover for the Band Aid 20 single, featuring the grim reaper and a starving African child. However, this was later dropped after fears that it might scare children. The single was released on 29 November, 2004, with all money raised going toward famine relief in the Darfurmarker region of Sudanmarker.

One of the new ways to buy the song, by downloading it from the Internet, hit a problem when Apple Computermarker's iTunes Music Store initially refused to supply it, due to their fixed-pricing policy. A partial solution was reached after a few days, enabling UKmarker users to download the song at the standard iTunes price, with Apple donating an extra amount (equivalent to the price difference) to the Band Aid Trust.

The CD version sold over 200,000 copies in the first week, and became the fastest-selling single of the year.


Organisers and producers:

Programming, original template:


Bono, Paul McCartney and George Michael were the only artists from the original Band Aid who had been asked back to lend their voices to Band Aid 20. There was a reported dispute over the line 'Tonight thank God it's them, instead of you', which Bono sang on the original version. Justin Hawkins, of The Darkness, laid down a version of the line, but Bono insisted on re-recording his version, which was eventually used on the record.

Blur and Gorillaz frontman and songwriter Damon Albarn, wanted to assist. Bono advised him to make tea. 'I asked him to make the tea,' the U2 frontman explained to Xfm, 'I saw him on Thursday night. He said "I don't know what to do." I said, "Make tea." He said "You really think so?" I said, "Yeah, make tea!"' Albarn quite happily responded, and thus served tea and biscuits for the participants, as well as appearing briefly in the video, at which Bono 'fatherly' commented: 'Good on him. I always knew that boy would turn out good in the end.'

The single sold 72,000 copies in the first 24 hours when it was released on 29 November, 2004, and went straight in at No. 1 in the UKmarker charts on 5 December 2004. It stayed at No. 1 for Christmas and the week after, all in all holding onto the top spot for four weeks, one week shorter than the original had done in 1984. Sales for the song held steady of the course of its number 1 run - selling about 250,000 each week - a million for its 4 week run. In total it sold more than 1.1 million copies, to become one of the UK's best selling singles of the new millennium.

Who sings what on each version

Most of the people involved in the original Band Aid single appeared on the 1984 Christmas edition of Top of the Pops to mime to the record. However Bono could not attend, which led to the spectacle of Paul Weller miming to Bono's line.

1984 musicians

1989 musicians

2004 musicians

Related projects

The Band Aid project inspired other charity records around the world, including We Are the World by USA for Africa (in the United Statesmarker), Cantaré Cantarás by Hermanos (in Latin America), Nackt im Wind by Band für Afrika (in Germanymarker), Ethiopie by Chanteurs Sans Frontiere (in Francemarker), Tears Are Not Enough by Northern Lights (in Canadamarker), Sammen for Livet by Forente Artister (in Norwaymarker), Maksamme Velkaa by Apua-Orkesteri (in Finlandmarker), Za Milion Godina by YU Rock Misija (in the former Yugoslaviamarker), Stars by Hear 'n Aid (international heavy metal artists), Afrika written by Nanna with various Danish artists, and many others.

A compilation of video games for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum was published under the name Soft Aid. It also featured a recording of the Do They Know It's Christmas? single.[22085]



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. They argued that the record was primarily a cosmetic spectacle, designed to draw attention away from the real political causes of world hunger.

Morrissey talking about the first Do They Know It's Christmas?:
'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.'

View of Africa

The song presents a very bleak view of Africa, which the lyrics appear to refer to as a whole. Some of these, such as the suggestions (if read literally) that the continent has no rainfall or successful crops, have been seen as absurd by critics. It also insinuates that there are no rivers in Africa. There are many, such as the Nile, the Niger, and the Zairemarker. At the time of the 2004 release, the World Development Movement spoke out on this issue, describing the lyrics as "patronising, false and out of date", although there was no attempt to discourage purchase of the song.

See also


External links

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