Do They Know It’s Christmas
Writer(s): Bob Geldof, Midge Ure (see lyrics here)
Released: December 3, 1984
Peak: 13 US, 7 CB, 39 GR, 35 A40, 32 AR, 15 UK, 12 CN, 14 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 3.94 UK, 11.7 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 39.3 video, 403.22 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Bob Geldof made his name initially as the frontman of the Boomtown Rats, an Irish punk-pop outfit which got its start in the late ‘70s and found success with a pair of #1 songs on the UK charts with “Rat Trap” and “I Don’t Like Mondays.” However, in his obituary someday, the leading line will reference him as the man who organized Band Aid and Live Aid.
Geldof was so moved one night by images from the BBC of “Ethiopians as they trudged for miles in search of food” HL that he felt obligated to do something. He started out collecting money at Boomtown Rats shows HL but wanted to do something on a grander scale. He connected with Midge Ure, the frontman from Ultravox, to pen a song about those suffering in the African famine. He wrote the lyrics in the back seat of a taxi and Midge produced the backing track in his studio. TB
To garner even more attention to the cause, however, the pair then tackled their collective rolodexes to round up a Who’s Who of British pop superstars to sing a Christmas charity single as the collective Band Aid. Among the stars enlisted were Bono, Phil Collins, Sting, George Michael, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Status Quo, Paul Weller, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17, and Kool & the Gang.
36 artists HL gathered at Sarm West Studios in London on November 25, 1984. Geldof implored attendees “to leave your egos outside the studio” HL and, in a wonderful display of unity, “everyone got on with everyone else.” HL They started the recording process by singing the “Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time” refrain first as a group. Then individual singers sang the song the entire way through so that Ure, who also produced the song, could splice the best parts together for the final version. WK The whole song was recorded within a 24-hour period. WK
Geldof wanted to make sure all the proceeds went straight to the Ethiopians so he in addition to getting the musicians to work for free, he arranged for free studio time, manufacturing, and distribution. The song sold 750,000 in its first week of release in England, making it their fastest-selling single in history at the time. MG It went on to sell more than 3.5 million, making it the best-selling song in Britain until Elton John’s 1997 re-recording of “Candle in the Wind”. WK Combined with the 1985 Live Aid concert, Geldof’s efforts raised £110 million. MG
First posted 12/15/2011; last updated 4/12/2023.