Bob Geldof (L) and also Midge Ure (R) exterior a London recording studio while working on "Do They know It"s Christmas?" ~ above November 25, 1984.

Bob Geldof, come his mounting horror, realized boy George to be missing.

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It to be November 25, 1984, and Geldof—a musician and also frontman because that the Boomtown Rats—had assembled a who’s that of talent for a charity solitary titled “Do They understand It’s Christmas?” He had corralled Bono, Sting, Kool and also the Gang, and every one of Bananarama, among others, however Boy George was i do not have anything to be found. Do calls from the London studio whereby everyone had gathered, Geldof tracked the down and also realized he to be sound asleep in a hotel room in new York City.

“Where space you, you’re supposed to be here,” Geldof said.

“Oh, is that today?” boy George asked.

Expletives followed. Boy George jumped ~ above the Concorde, which might make the trip between the cities in under 4 hours, and also immediately dropped in tune with Geldof’s impressive display of star power, launching what would end up being a mini-industry the songs and concerts to plan to sell financial relief come those in need. Geldof also named his repertoire of singers band Aid. And also while “Do They understand It’s Christmas?” would certainly prove to be a monster hit, that would likewise stand as an example of the lesson that no an excellent deed ever before goes unpunished.


Geldof gained the idea because that "Do They know It"s Christmas?" in October of the year, once he to be watching the BBC in England and grew concerned at the plight the Ethiopians suffering a severe famine. Geldof believed he could raise money with music. That phoned his girlfriend, Paula Yates, who was then co-hosting a show with musician Midge Ure. Geldof described to Ure his idea of a charity solitary and asked Ure to help polish a tune he had originally rewritten for the Boomtown Rats. If Ure would emphasis on the arrangement, Geldof said, that would handle the talent booking.

According come Ure, that spoke v Yahoo! around the song’s heritage in 2018, Geldof had the ability to assemble such an exceptional laundry list of stars through refusing come go v the proper channels. “He i will not ~ speak to a manager or a record label or an agent—he would uncover the phone number because that the artist and he’d speak come the artist himself, which to be brilliant,” Ure said.

By avoiding music industry bureaucracy, Geldof had the ability to secure commitments from Sting, Simon Le Bon the Duran Duran, Gary Kemp the Spandau Ballet, Paul Young, boy George, George Michael, Bono, and Phil Collins, amongst others. (David Bowie and Paul McCartney were invited however had scheduling conflicts and recorded talked word verses for the B-side single, “Feed the World,” instead.)

Because Geldof and Ure wanted to concern the record in time for the holidays and also make an very nice to listeners emotionally affected by the season, castle raced right into production, recording for a full 24 hrs at Sarm West Studios in London, i m sorry owner Trevor Horn had actually opened to Geldof and his collaborators at no cost. Using overview vocals currently recorded through Sting and Le Bon, the singers first sang together for media to record footage, then tape-recorded verses individually for this reason the ideal one might be selected for the final song.

Aside indigenous the young George confusion, the session went smoothly—save for Bono at first resisting recording his heat (“Tonight, say thanks to God, it’s them instead of you”) after finding it as well pat. Part observers likewise noticed illegal substances gift passed among the participants.

Geldof and Ure didn’t wait until the documents were pressed prior to they shopped because that airtime. Top top November 29, just four days after its marathon record session, the track made its main debut. Ure drive a cassette tape over to the BBC and also was appreciative once the broadcaster played it every hour. Owing to its charity leanings, even civilization who stood to shed money gained behind the tune. Singer Jim Diamond, who had actually the best hit in the UK at the moment with "I Should have actually Known Better," in reality urged civilization not to buy his single and opt to purchase “Do They recognize It’s Christmas?” instead.


The single immediately shot to the peak spot ~ above sales charts and also remained over there for five weeks, walk on to market 3.8 million duplicates in the UK and 12 million worldwide. In all, more than $28 million to be raised.

Given that proceeds checked out a great cause, who can find fault through Geldof’s altruistic efforts? Well, as it rotate out, a few people.

Sting arrives to document "Do They know It"s Christmas?" in London top top November 25, 1984. Larry Ellis, to express Newspapers/Getty Images

While the musical substance of “Do They recognize It’s Christmas?” deserve to be debated, movie critics were no necessarily came to with its contributions to lyricism. Instead, they took umbrage in ~ the truth the song showed up to be pandering, illustrating African occupants as oblivious come Christmas. Worse to be a 1986 exposé in Spin magazine that reported proceeds indigenous the song, and also Geldof’s follow-up projects “We space the World” and also Live Aid, may have actually unintentionally assisted African dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam buy tools from Russia.

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Geldof refuse to comment because that the Spin article, but had a explain for civilization who discovered the tune itself doing not have when it to be re-recorded in 2014 through One Direction, Sam Smith, and also others to assist fund the fight against the Ebola virus. (It was likewise revisited in 1989 and also 2004.) “It’s a popular music song,” Geldof said. “It’s no a doctoral thesis. They have the right to f*** off.”

This to be a adjust of song for Geldof, who in 2010 declared: "I to be responsible for two of the worst song in history. "Do They recognize It"s Christmas?" The other one is "We are The World." any day soon, I will certainly go to the supermarket, head come the meat counter, and it will certainly be playing. Every f***ing Christmas."

While Ure has actually said it’s i can not qualify the tune will it is in re-released again, it might not have to be the finish of the story. In 2017, manager James Ward Byrkit was supposedly mulling a feature film titled Do They recognize It’s Murder? The movie would check out Geldof effort to pull off the charity single while trying to resolve the murder of among the musician in the studio.

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