Do They Know It’s Christmas
In the early 80s, famine was rampant in Africa… so much so that the BBC sent a reporter to the dark continent to file a report on the epidemic. When it aired in October 1984, Bob Geldof (then known solely as the lead singer of the Boomtown “I Don’t Like Mondays” Rats) happened to be watching.
“Hmmm,” we imagine he thought, “I know some famous people who can sing. Maybe we could make a record, with the proceeds going to help Africa.”
Boom! “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was born.
Geldof and Ultravox frontman Midge Ure spent the next few weeks writing the song, and then, on November 25, three dozen of Great Britain’s finest musicians and singers (along with lone American, Robert ‘Kool’ Bell from Kool & the Gang) gathered in London to sing their charitable little hearts out.
And sure, Duran Duran, Boy George, Sting, U2, and George Michael were all in attendance, but it was Paul “Come Back and Stay” Young who got the bulk of the vocal work, including the opening and closing bits. Good on ya, Paul!
Bono belted out his famous (and controversial) “Well, tonight that God it’s them instead of you”, Sting (fittingly) got to sing “…the bitter sting of tears…”, and Paul McCartney and David Bowie were relegated to the B-side.
When “Do They Know…” was released on November 28, 1984, it immediately shot to the top of the charts, selling more than three million copies in England alone and spawning USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” in March 1985, the Live Aid super-concert in July 1985, and a handful of re-recordings, including Band Aid 20’s version in 2004.
Even better, it ended up raising millions of dollars for the famine in Africa.
They asked us to feed the world, and dammit we did!
We ♥ Do They Know It’s Christmas