What the “Do you know it’s Christmas?” Celebrities have said about the eighties classic

1984’s festive hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is a staple of every December Christmas playlist, despite its almost blindingly depressing lyrics.

Almost everyone knows the story behind the song. A coalition of the biggest stars of the 1980s, Band Aid was formed by Sir Bob Geldof and Ultravox frontman Midge Ure, who all got together to record the song in London to raise money for the Ethiopian famine.

To date, the song has raised £200m, well above the original £70,000 target set by Geldof. It was so successful that Geldof has returned to the studio several times over the next 38 years. There are four versions of Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Combining lyrics by Geldof and Ure and the voices of arguably the finest singers of a generation, the 1984 song was a hit. The accompanying video – a behind-the-scenes look at the recording studio on the day the song was produced – shows each singer reaching for the microphone to record their voice.

A group of 37 of the biggest names in music made their way to Notting Hill’s Sarm West Studio to record the song. Over the years, they’ve looked back on the experience and shared their memories of the day “Do You Know It’s Christmas?” was born.

Bono, George Michael, Martin Kemp, Ure and Geldof all contributed to what became the fastest-selling single in UK chart history at the time.


While his line could be the track’s roaring crescendo, Bono originally refused to sing the lyrics, “Tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.”

(Getty Images)

“I said [Geldof] I didn’t want to sing the line,” the U2 frontman recounted in the band’s 2006 memoir.

“[Geldof] said, “It’s not about what you want, okay? That’s about what these people need.’ I was too young to say, ‘This is about something you want.'”

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Ultimately, Bono decided it was Geldof’s show and he was just “happy to be on it”. The line was later sung by The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins when Band Aid re-recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 2004.

Shortly thereafter, however, Hawkins claimed that Bono’s team was unhappy with someone else singing the lyrics.

“We both recorded the same line, I did better than him,” Hawkins said The mirror. “But his management stunk and he will do it again today.”

Martin Kempf

Martin Kemp from the Spandau Ballet revealed that cobbles were not his “finest hour”.

At this time, the public rivalry between Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran was at its height. Behind closed doors, however, the members of the two groups were friends.

Both groups were in Germany when they learned they had been asked to record for Do They Know It’s Christmas?. Duran Duran had hired a Learjet to fly them back to Heathrow and Spandau Ballet, determined not to be outdone, decided they too would travel in style.

Reminiscing about the day, Kemp recounted The Post on Sunday: “And what did we do? We also hired a Learjet. We didn’t want to let these plump handsome boys steal the show. We would run them back!”

From there, they rolled into the largest Bentley they could find to Sarm West Studios.

“We’d look like royalty and steal the last bit of the limelight from those brummie chancers, Duran Duran.”

However, the other celebrities decided to make their arrival more low-key, some even taking the subway.

“Now comes Spandau Ballet, arriving in a luxury car to help Ethiopia’s starving children, having just blasted across the Channel on Learjets,” Kemp said.

The embarrassment for Spandau Ballet was heightened when a band member, whose name Kemp would not give, was asked if he had a message for the people of Ethiopia. His answer?

“‘Yes, I want to say hello, and we’re sorry we didn’t manage to tour there this year, but we’re hoping to make it soon.”

Kemp summed up the entire day succinctly: “It wasn’t our finest hour.”

(Getty Images)


George Michael, who is still part of Wham! back then, during the Band Aid recording, there was almost a fight with fellow artist Paul Weller.

In the book 2011 I Want My MTV: The Uncensored History of the Music Video Revolution, Michael reflected on the day at Sarm West Studio.

“Musicians in England berated each other all year and everyone kind of forgot it for the day.

“The only person who didn’t succumb to the charitable nature of the day was Paul Weller, who decided to give me a try before anyone else.”

The “Faith” singer said he told Weller, “Don’t be aw***** your whole life. have a day off.”

Those weren’t Michael’s only thoughts that day. In fact, Kemp revealed that Michael wasn’t a fan of the song’s lyrics at first.

“He didn’t like the words Bob and Midge wrote for the song. He thought they were too down,” Kemp said Greatest hits radio in December 2021.

“It wasn’t until later, after we recorded it and listened to it, that he really appreciated it. Listen, sometimes it takes a big man to accept that.”

Midge Ure

Midge Ure, who co-wrote the song with Bob Geldof, called the song “meh” 30 years later.

In 2014, the Ultravox frontman told Yahoo!: “I’ve been misquoted many times when I said it was the worst song I’ve ever written, and it certainly isn’t – I’ve written a lot worse!” – but as a song it’s OK.”

However, Ure was always attuned to the impact of the song, saying that “as a record, it’s extraordinary, as a moment in time, it’s phenomenal”.

“But as a song, meh,” he continued. “It’s not a ‘white Christmas'”.

Bob Geldof

Geldof, the mastermind behind Band Aid, explained: “Do you know it’s Christmas?” makes him “fucking crazy”.

“The song has a life of its own. It makes money every time it’s played in every damn supermarket,” he said radio times in October 2022.

“It’s Mistletoe and Wine on veggies, Slade on baked beans, Wizzard on tea and coffee, and Band-Aids on the butcher counter. I mean… it drives me freaking crazy at Christmas. But there it is.”

However, he was also a fierce defender of the song, especially when the 2014 version “Band Aid 30” received backlash. Featuring artists such as Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Chris Martin and Olly Murs, the song featured a new chorus replacing the famous “Feed the World” chorus. The new text “heal the world” addressed the Ebola epidemic, which was most widespread between 2013 and 2016.

An Ebola survivor called the text “terrifying,” to which Geldof replied via The Telegraph: “Please, it’s a pop song. Relax… It’s not a PhD. You can fuck off.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/do-they-know-its-christmas-band-aid-b2248586.html What the “Do you know it’s Christmas?” Celebrities have said about the eighties classic


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