In a historic gathering at Sarm Studios in London on November 25, 1984, a group of legendary rock and pop musicians, led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, united to record "Do They Know It's Christmas," a heartfelt response to the Ethiopian famine.
On November 25, 1984, a group of iconic rock and pop musicians gathered at Sarm Studios in London to lend their voices to a charitable cause that would resonate for decades to come. The occasion was the recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas," a song born out of a desire to address the devastating Ethiopian famine and make a positive impact on the lives of those affected. Organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, the Band Aid initiative marked a historic moment in the music industry's engagement with humanitarian causes.
The idea for Band Aid and the single "Do They Know It's Christmas" originated when Bob Geldof, lead singer of The Boomtown Rats, saw a BBC documentary on the famine in Ethiopia. Touched by the images of suffering and inspired by a desire to contribute to relief efforts, Geldof reached out to Ultravox frontman Midge Ure. Together, they hatched a plan to bring together some of the biggest names in the music industry to create a fundraising single.
Geldof and Ure quickly garnered support from a stellar lineup of musicians, including Bono, Sting, Phil Collins, George Michael, and many others. The artists donated their time and talents to create a supergroup that would become known as Band Aid. The recording session at Sarm Studios on November 25, 1984, was a momentous occasion, with a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose permeating the air.
The ensemble of artists who contributed to "Do They Know It's Christmas" reads like a who's who of 1980s music. In addition to those mentioned earlier, artists such as David Bowie, Boy George, and Paul McCartney lent their voices to the project. The resulting single, penned by Geldof and Ure, became an instant classic and a symbol of unity in the face of adversity.
Listen to the "Do They Know It's Christmas" here:
The release of "Do They Know It's Christmas" was met with tremendous commercial success. The single topped charts around the world, raising significant funds for Ethiopian famine relief. The proceeds from the sales and subsequent donations amounted to an impressive £8 million in the first year alone. The impact extended beyond financial contributions, as the single raised global awareness about the famine and inspired other charitable initiatives.
The legacy of "Do They Know It's Christmas" is enduring. Beyond its initial success, the song has been re-released multiple times, often featuring updated lineups of artists to address new humanitarian crises. Band Aid's efforts paved the way for subsequent collaborations, such as "We Are the World" in the United States. The model established by Band Aid influenced the approach of artists engaging with social issues, demonstrating the power of music to bring about positive change.
Watch a documentary on the making of the single: