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“Do they Know It’s Christmas” still pricks our conscience


Band Aid's hit raised 8 million euros in the first year.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is a song written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984. The two singer-songwriters were inspired to compose the song after they saw television reports of the 1983-85 famine in Ethiopia. The song was recorded by Band Aid, a supergroup that brought together many of the biggest British and Irish musicians of the era.

Band Aid brought together 37 vocalists, including Bono, Robert “Kool” Bell, Phil Collins, Boy George, George Michael, and Sting. It is a charity organization as much as it is a band; all of the proceeds from the work were put towards charitable works for children in Africa.

An instant hit, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” became the fastest selling single in UK chart history, selling 1 million copies in the first week alone. It held this title for 13 years, until it was ousted by Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” tribute to Princess Diana, in 1994.

Geldof started Band Aid with the hope of raising 70,000 euros for Ethiopian relief and was blown away when he found that “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” raised over 8 million in the first year. By 1989 the single had sold 11.7 million copies worldwide.

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