On this day in music history: November 25, 1984 - The single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid is recorded. Written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, the one off benefit single for famine relief in Africa is a huge worldwide hit. Boomtown Rats leader Bob Geldof sees a BBC news report on the plight of famine stricken people in the African nation of Ethiopia. Deeply moved by what he has seen, Geldof enlists the help of Midge Ure of Ultravox, along with over thirty British and US pop stars including Paul Young, Boy George, George Michael, Sting, Bono, Duran Duran, Bananarama, members of Kool & The Gang and Jody Watley to help produce a record with all of the earnings being donated to famine relief. Recorded at producer Trevor Horn’s SARM West Studios in Notting Hill, London, the track is recorded in one twenty four hour long marathon recording session. The single is released in the UK on November 29, 1984 (US release date is on December 3, 1984), with Mercury Records in the UK and Columbia Records in the US donating pressing and distribution of the single for free. Famed pop artist Sir Peter Blake (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”) designs the singles’ iconic sleeve artwork. It quickly sets a record as the best selling single in history in UK record history, selling over 3.7 million copies in only two weeks. By 1989, its worldwide sales will reach over 11.8 million copies sold, holding the sales record until 1997 when it is surpassed by Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind 1997”. “Christmas” spends five weeks at number one on the UK singles chart beginning on December 15, 1984, and peaking at number thirteen on the Billboard Top 200 on December 29, 1984, earning millions for Ethiopian famine relief. A thirty minute long documentary on the making of the landmark single titled “Do They Know It’s Christmas? - The Story Of The Official Band Aid Video” will be released on home video by Polygram Music Video in the UK and Vestron Video in the US (VHS, Beta, and eight inch laserdisc). The song is re-recorded in 1989 (as Band Aid II), 2004 (as Band Aid 20), and a for a third time in 2014 (Band Aid 30) with the latest recording raising funds for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Cumberbatch asks Hamlet audience to help refugees… and culture secretary obliges
Benedict Cumberbatch criticised the government’s response to the refugee crisis in a stirring speech after Thursday night’s performance of Hamlet.
The star gave the impromptu address moments after the show had finished.
With many audience members still on their feet for a standing ovation, Cumberbatch spoke of “our government’s slow response” to the crisis which has seen millions of Syrians forced to leave their homes.
He stressed the desperate plight endured by those escaping war-torn Syria and its neighbours:
“A parent only puts their child on a boat when the sea is safer than the land.”
Cumberbatch urged people to buy Help is Coming, the new single by Crowded House, the proceeds of which will go to Save the Children.
He also asked urged audience members to donate cash to the refugee crisis appeal that evening.
Among those attending the performance at the Barbican on Thursday evening was none other than John Whittingdale.
TP’s well-placed mole reports that the departing culture secretary appeared happy to oblige with Cumberbatch’s request - by handing over a ten pound note to a volunteer with a bucket on his way out.
When I started writing this song at the tender age of 16, I knew that I wanted it to somehow help the problems of homelessness especially in London, where I witnessed it most and couldn’t block it from my mind..
I began to take my guitar wondering around London, find a homeless person, and if they allowed me, I would love to sit and talk to them.. find out their story their problems, then busk for them.
Then I started volunteering with The Simon Community who aim not to “fix” the homeless, just to give them a sense of community, support and a smile… they have an open house in London with some permanent residents, but they allow homeless people to come in for food and to wash their clothes and get cleaned up if they wish. With the Simon Community, I also saw the impact of something so simple as giving out hot tea and soup on a freezing cold winter’s day.. and also using initiative, teaming up with the likes of M&S and Pret a Manger to give their unpurchased sandwiches at the end of the day to homeless people.
Anybody can make a difference… You can help by volunteering or simply donating to the services that The Simon Community provide by buying my song “One Loose Coin” online via bandcamp. All sales before Feb 2012 will go towards their work.