On this day in history : 25th November 1984 – Thirty-six well-known musicians gather at a recording studio in Notting Hill, London – to record Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?
The Band Aid idea had been conceived by Bob Geldof – lead singer of the Boomtown Rats – in response to a BBC news report by Michall Buerk on the famine in Ethiopia – and particularly the starving children….
Geldof enlisted the help of Midge Ure of Ultravox – to write the single Do They Know It’s Christmas? as a way of raising funds to help…. The pair then contacted various British and Irish music artists to recruit them into a recording session to produce the single…. Some of those unable to attend but who wanted to contribute, including David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Holly Johnson, recorded messages for the single’s B-side….
The song was recorded at the Sam West Studios, in Notting Hill, on Sunday the 25th of November 1984…. Included among the 36 participating artists were : Bono, Boy George, Phil Collins, Simon Le Bon, George Michael, Sting, Paul Weller, Paul Young, Siobhan Fahey and Tony Hadley – with Phil Collins on drums, John Taylor on bass guitar and Midge Ure on keyboards….
The group section of the song was recorded first to get everyone feeling immediately involved…. Then one by one the solo artists recorded their part – with Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet going first…. Geldof and Ure did not sing any solo lines but took part in the group finale…. Boy George arrived at 6pm to record his section, having flown in from New York on Concorde especially….
The single was released on Monday the 3rd of December 1984, with advanced orders of 250,000…. The No.1 song at the time was I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond – who said “I’m delighted to be at number one, but next week I don’t want people to buy my record; I want them to buy Band Aid instead”….
Do They Know It’s Christmas? entered the UK charts at No.1 and stayed there for five weeks…. It was to be the fastest selling single in UK chart history, selling one million copies in the first week alone…. On the 10th of December it was released in the United States and by January 1985 had sold an estimated 2.5 million copies….
Geldof had hoped to raise in the region of £70,000 for Ethiopia – within twelve months of its release the single had raised £8m…. Do They Know It’s Christmas? has been re-recorded three times, in 1989, 2004 and 2014….