Do They Know It's Christmas?
Do They Know It's Christmas single cover - 1984
single by Band Aid
B-side "Feed the World" (1984)
"One Year On (Feed the World)" (1985)
Released 3 December 1984
Recorded 25 November 1984
Sarm West Studios, London
Format 7", 12"
Genre Pop, rock, new wave, synthpop
Length 3:50 (7" Version)
6:16 (12" version)
Label Phonogram (UK)
Columbia (US)
Writer(s) Bob Geldof, Midge Ure
Producer(s) Midge Ure
Trevor Horn (12" and 1985 reissue)
featuring Duran Duran

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a single by Band Aid, released by Phonogram-Columbia on 3 December 1984.

About the songEdit

The song was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984 specifically to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief.

The original version was produced by Midge Ure and Trevor Horn, and released by the supergroup Band Aid, consisting of leading Irish and British rock and pop musicians.

The recording studio gave Band Aid 24 hours free to record and mix the song on 25 November 1984. The recording took place between 21:00am and 4:00pm, and was filmed to release as the single's music video.

The first track to be put down was drums by Phil Collins including the memorable opening African drum beat. Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet was the first to record his vocal while a section sung by Status Quo was deemed unusable and replaced with the Paul Weller/Sting/Glenn Gregory section. Paul Young said in a documentary that he knew his opening lines were written for David Bowie, who was not able to make the recording but made a contribution to the B-side. Boy George arrived last at 6:00pm after Geldof woke him up by phone to have him flown over from New York on Concorde to record his solo part.

Style and contentEdit

According to its co-authors, the lyrics were largely written by Bob Geldof while Midge Ure is responsible for the melody and vocal arrangement. The song comprises two parts: a verse and bridge which allow individual singers to perform different lines; and a chorus in the form of two repeated phrases by the ensemble. The chorus was added by Midge Ure shortly before the recording session and is similar in style to many of his Ultravox songs (such as "Hymn").

Public releaseEdit

The following morning Geldof appeared on Mike Read's Radio 1 Breakfast Show to promote the record and promised that every penny would go to the cause. This led to a stand-off with the British Government which refused to waive the VAT (sales tax) on the sales of the single. Geldof made the headlines by publicly standing up to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and, sensing the strength of public feeling, the government backed down and donated the tax back to the charity.

The single was released on 15 December 1984, and went straight to number 1 in the UK pop charts outselling all the other records in the chart put together. It became the fastest selling single of all time in the UK, selling a million in the first week alone. It stayed at Number 1 for 5 weeks selling over 3 million copies.

In the United States, the music video was played on MTV frequently throughout the holiday season.

The single was released just before Christmas with the aim of raising money for the relief of the famine. Geldof's somewhat cautious hope was for 70,000 pounds. Ultimately, however, the song raised many millions of pounds and became the biggest-selling single in UK chart history. (It has since been passed by Elton John's tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, "Candle in the Wind 1997".)

Band Aid 20 recorded a new version of the song in November 2004 for the twentieth anniversary of the original recording.


The original Band Aid ensemble consisted of (in sleeve order):

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