Thirty two years ago today a group of musicians, touched by the plight of those starving to death in famine-plagued Ethiopia, recorded a pop song that still touches hearts today – the multi-million selling single Do They Know It’s Christmas.
Recorded by Band Aid, a supergroup, put together by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, the song became the fastest selling single in UK chart history, and has come to be recognised as a symbol of hope and man’s humanity for those less fortunate than themselves.
Today, I’ve asked two local music lovers, both of whom have rubbed shoulders with pop and rock’s elite in their pursuit of autographs, to assess its impact.
This is what Wavis O’Shave, South Shields’ very own musical chameleon and one-time presenter on the Tube TV show, has to say.
“The 12” version of the song was mixed by Durham lad Trevor Horn (of The Buggles).
“Thirty-two years on and the original sentiment should remain the same at this special time of family celebration.
“Casting aside our own self-indulgences, let us take stock, rather than stocking, and give a compassionate thought to all those around the world who are still having to go without and, if possible, help in any way we can, large or small.
“One doesn’t have to be a pop star. The entire human race is our one true family.
‘The song was reflective of ’80s music at the time, and everyone had their own ideas about who should have been in the line up. The project followed somewhat in the footsteps of George Harrison’s supergroup for the 1971 ‘Concert for Bangladesh’, to raise international awareness and fund relief.
“Perhaps the song could have been a bit better by allowing the female artists a solo, and a rethink on the arguably clumsy line ‘Tonight, thank God its them instead of you’.
“Still, we were all young and Feed the World seemed a good enough chorus for any song at any time of year, plus no one in particular was designed to steal the show.
“My desperately tenuously sublime connection with it all was that the opening line by Paul Young was originally written and intended for David Bowie who wasn’t available, but was a person I once met.
“Also Geldof’s wife Paula Yates featured in the video, and Paula and I rubbed shoulders during our time at The Tube. Sting was in both the song and the video, and my relationship with him was the permanent borrowing of an empty milk bottle from his doorstep, which I sent to his adoring fan DJ Anne Nightingale.”
Meanwhile, Wavis’ old pal, Gary Craig says: “Do they Know It’s Christmas is probably the most iconic Christmas song ever in the sense that it created immediate worldwide interest in the plight of the people starving in Africa.
“It established the first gathering of major stars where they almost felt they had to be involved to maintain their status in the music world, and established a template for music stars to come together in support of good causes in the future.”
What are your memories of the record and the people who recorded it? Do you still have a copy of the single?